I have OCD that sometimes leads to depression. Basically, feeling anxious all the time makes me feel depressed. Around this time - usually in September or so - I start to get anxious after a good run during the summer months. Winter is a hard time where I live. It is cold and snowy, sometimes until the end of April before we start to get warm weather. It is dark all the time... since I live close to the mountains, the sun will start setting around 4 p.m. and by 5 it's dark.
The worst time for me is usually January-March, after the holidays. It is usually so cold and dark, and I get into a rut where I come home from work and sit in front of the computer/TV until it's time for bed. I hate cold weather, but there is no chance of me moving since my husband and I both have good jobs and family here.
Then there is the problem of associations. A few years ago, when my OCD first surfaced, it was in September, and I really didn't start to feel better until the following spring. I think I associate winter months with a really hard time in my life. Though I manage my OCD now, there is always the fear of going back to the "dark place," where I was crying, panicking and suffering nearly every day for six months.
I have been thinking about getting a lightbox, but I also wanted to know how others with S.A.D. cope during the winter months? I think I will need to get in some sort of exercise nearly every day. I currently take a B-complex vitamin as well as flax oil, though i'm considering switching to fish oil based on some of the benefits I've read. The supplements definitely seem to help, though, just on a daily basis. I just get so stuck in a rut during the winter months, and end up feeling tired, have no motivation and am basically listless during that time.
I sympathise. I used to have SAD every winter when I lived in central California. Where supposedly the sun always shines. Then we moved to northern Germany, where the sun hardly ever shines. My SAD started happening earlier and earlier every year and lasting longer, until one year I didn't come out of it until August. During that year I was suicidal.
Then I read that a deficiency of Vitamin D can contribute to SAD. Even though I eat well, with lots of veggies and other healthy things, I wasn't getting any Vitamin D because I stay out of the sun as much as possible and I cover up when I do have to go out. My skin is very fair and I used to burn as a child, so I don't expose myself to the sun anymore. The milk here in Germany isn't fortified with Vitamin D. I wasn't getting any in my diet and I wasn't making any from the sun.
Several years ago I started taking 2000 IU of Colecalciferol (D3) per day. Every day, all year long. I have not had depression since then.
You might try D3 (it's supposed to be more easily absorbed by the body than D2) and see if it helps.
Many people find that a light box helps. But if the problem is low Vitamin D, then the light box won't help that.
I wish you well. It's no fun losing half your life to depression.
Rheanna, thanks for the tip on Vitamin D. We also supposedly have 300+ sunny days a year here in Colorado, but when it's bitter cold out, I only venture outside when I have to. The weather was cold and gray here for a few days and I think it triggered my feelings of anxiety about the upcoming winter season, and how depressed I always seem to get during that time. I'm also fair skinned so I cover up my skin as to not get burned and keep my skin healthy.