Guest blog – Amie’s journey with CBT

Amie posted this in the SAD Facebook group  I am a member of.  She has very kindly allowed me to post it as a blog here to help others.

“Last winter, I got so much better that I thought of donating my entire “light collection.” I account it to the fact that I took an online course in Positive Psychology as well as made some major decisions for my life, and it made a huge difference.

This year, I started having symptoms again, and was like, “What’s wrong with me???” I headed south for a while, which helped, but is not always a complete solution (be warned lol). So I recently took an online course on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for SAD that mentioned that a person needs to continue to practice the techniques, as humans have a tendency to return to their baseline,  meaning you can get symptomatic again, even if you have studied CBT or similar in the past. It was suggested that in the fall, just as some regularly start an antidepressant around a certain time, take out the CBT tools you found helpful – thought diaries/sheets, pleasant activities schedule – even if you don’t feel like you need them quite yet. It’s easier to get yourself out of a hole you never fell into! Perhaps it’s sort of like a workout routine. If it is not kept up, the mind can get “out of shape” as well haha.

Maybe even meet with a professional to review the techniques, My insurance isn’t that good – so it’s hard for me to find someone around here, but I decided it’s a help yourself world, so that’s what I’ve done. I feel knowledge gives you power!

I’ve also read several books that have been helpful. In the past, I thought I was at a loss for information, because there aren’t many doctors around here who know a lot about treating SAD, and beyond Rosenthal’s Winter Blues book, there’s not a lot of other published information (yes ok on the internet, but some of it is questionable or just says the same things as other sites repetitively). However, given the diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder recently changed to Major Depression with Seasonal Onset, I read an article in which one doctor suggested to stop looking at the Seasonal specific part and start looking at it as how can I treat this depression. Therefore I started reading some books on depression and these have helped a lot – because there is a lot of overlap.

A couple books that stand out are, “The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs“, by Steve Iliardi, and “The Upward Spiral“, by Alex Korb. The former is a simpler read of things to try, while the latter had many helpful things to break a cycle of depression. Korb’s book may be too technical for some – I personally liked the information.

If it’s hard to focus on books in the midst of SAD, it’s been suggested to do it just before or after winter, where you can focus on the information – similar to learning CBT. I find listening to audio books (especially the first time though) easier than straight reading. Off the top of my head, others I found helpful were: “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy,” by Dr. David Burns (on CBT), “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Dummies“, by Rhena Branch, “The Mindful Way through Depression,” by Mark Williams. I read a book on EFT/tapping, but the jury is out on that for me.

The course I took on CBT was through Udemy.com, “Say Goodbye to Seasonal Affective Disorder and Winter Blues”, by Arnie Kozak. He was one of the group of researchers with Kelly Rohan who recently published the results of their study that not only is CBT as effective as light therapy, but people showed less relapse over years 2 and 3 than with light therapy. I also liked how this course specifically targeted CBT for SAD. The course I took on Positive Psychology was through Coursera.com and led by Dr. Barbara L. Fredrickson, a well-known researcher on Positive Psychology at the University of North Carolina. Udemy frequently runs coupons for discounted pricing and Coursera has financial aid that is easily obtained.

As an aside, the CBT course also pointed out that any time we are compromised – for example sick, injured or extremely stressed, the thought patterns and SAD symptoms can show up even more. This makes sense because while in Phoenix I ran a tough 100K race that beat me up completely, and after that the symptoms came back noticeably. I had also noticed in the past that while injured or sick with the flu, I’d seem to get worse as well.

Although bright light therapy remains a mainstay for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder, there are other effective techniques that can be used as well, especially when the lights don’t seem to work well or completely, or the duration/timing of usage is impractical for some.

Just some thoughts – I hope all are doing well!”

Thanks Amie! x

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Heather Crystaloak

Crystal Energy Practitioner and Bach Flower Registered Practitioner living in Wellingborough UK with her husband and 3 cats. Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, I have no qualifications or training in medicine. The information in my website is purely an opinion and therefore I urge you to do your own research or speak to your doctor before trying anything suggested. It is your health and your responsibility.