Summer came and went fast as lightning. However, the colder months bring a lot more for some people than just chilly weather.  Fall and winter can sometimes bring a hefty dose of SAD, better known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or seasonal depression. 

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, seasonal depression is a chemical change in the brain that occurs during certain seasons. For most people, it hits the hardest during the fall and winter due to shorter days and less sunshine. It can resonate in many different ways including social withdrawal, anxiety, irritability, lack of interest in activities you usually enjoy, and more varying from person to person. 

With about four percent of Americans experiencing seasonal depression every year, according to the American Psychiatric Association, many people are looking for ways to overcome it. Travel is an excellent way to cope with seasonal depression and more Americans are using travel as a way to reinforce self-care and wellness as the days get colder and shorter.

A Change In Scenery Can Change Your Mood 

two women on a beach
Photo credit: Thought Catalog

Unless you work remotely, most Americans spend the majority of their time in their destination of residence. With the cost of goods and services rising across the country, some people found funds too tight to travel like they would have desired. While this saved money, it forced many people to spend more time in the same environment with little change. 

Being in the same space nonstop can be a bit of a drag. When seasonal depression is creeping in, a change of scenery can aid in shifting your mood. If you live in a rigid and cold climate, a week spent in beach destinations like Miami or Galveston could be a breath of fresh air.

According to NHS Inform, being cold contributes to depression. It may be in your best interest to escape the cold for a little while and seek out warmer climates if you notice symptoms of seasonal depression. Warmer weather also means more sunlight which Brandon Santan, PhD, told Fox News will boost mental wellness during SAD season. 

“Regular exposure to this light can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with the winter blues and SAD,” Santan told Fox News.

Return Renewed & Refreshed 

man smiling with colorful background
Photo credit: Suad Kamardeen

Travel is a perfect remedy for seasonal depression because it’s been proven to elevate mental wellness. Paul Simeone, Ph.D., Vice President and Medical Director of Behavioral Health with Lee Health, said that traveling can help people get better sleep, reduce job burnout, and decrease feelings of loneliness. In an article published by Lee Health, Simeone noted that many Americans felt a sense of isolation and loneliness during the pandemic due to being unable to travel freely. 

“Traveling for pleasure can contribute to subjective well-being because people have more opportunities to detach from their work environment, to experience new things, and to control what they want to do during vacations,” Simeone said. “There’s ample research to support that positive travel experiences can make a person healthier, can strengthen their relationships, and benefit their overall wellness.”

Upon returning from vacations, many travelers express feeling renewed and refreshed. Traveling can spark new inspiration that travelers can’t tap into at home. During the months when seasonal depression hits the hardest, consider heading out of town. This can be a lavish vacation experience or a quick road trip to clear your mind. Whatever you do, be sure to add traveling to your toolbox of seasonal depression coping skills as winter gets closer.