As with other types of depression, antidepressant medicines and talk therapy can be effective.
MANAGING YOUR DEPRESSION AT HOME
To manage your symptoms at home:
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Take medicines the right way. Ask your provider how to manage side effects.
- Learn to watch for early signs that your depression is getting worse. Have a plan if it does get worse.
- Try to exercise more often. Do activities that make you happy.
DO NOT use alcohol or illegal drugs. These can make depression worse. They can also cause you to think about suicide.
When you are struggling with depression, talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust. Try to be around people who are caring and positive. Volunteer or get involved in group activities.
Your provider may prescribe light therapy. Light therapy uses a special lamp with a very bright light that mimics light from the sun:
- Treatment is started in the fall or early winter, before the symptoms of SAD begin.
- Follow your provider's instructions about how to use light therapy. One way that may be recommended is to sit a couple of feet away from the light box for about 30 minutes each day. This is usually done in the early morning, to mimic sunrise.
- Keep your eyes open, but do not look straight into the light source.
If light therapy is going to help, symptoms of depression should improve within 3 to 4 weeks.
Side effects of light therapy include:
- Eye strain or headache
People who take medicines that make them more sensitive to light, such as certain psoriasis drugs, antibiotics, or antipsychotics, should not use light therapy.
A checkup with your eye doctor is recommended before starting treatment.
With no treatment, symptoms usually get better on their own with the change of seasons. Symptoms can improve more quickly with treatment.