Beating The Winter Blues
Do you struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is “a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons” (1) and can begin in Autumn (usually when the clocks change) and continue through Winter. SAD symptoms include:
- difficulty concentrating
- lack of interest in things you typically enjoy
- problems with sleep and appetite
- sense of hopelessness
- feelings of depression
- carb cravings
Did you know? About 5 percent of adults in the U.S. experience SAD and it typically lasts about 40 percent of the year.
“The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. Some factors that may come into play include:
- Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
- Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
- Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.” (2)
What To Do
Try sitting in front of a Light Therapy box for 20 minutes a day. These boxes emit bright light (filtering out UV rays) that can help alleviate your symptoms in 1-2 weeks with daily use.
Spend Time Outdoors
Bundle up and spend a few minutes in nature. The increased exposure to sunlight will help but don’t forget the sunscreen!
If you prefer the warmth of indoors, try to move your workspace close to a window.
Plan regular get-togethers with friends and family, volunteer in your community, get involved with group activities.
If your symptoms don’t improve, it’s time to see your doctor. Cognitive Behavior Therapy can be conducted individually or in a family or group setting. Your psychotherapist may also prescribe an antidepressant to help you navigate through your symptoms.
Get Additional Help
If your depression is severe or you are having thoughts of suicide, contact your doctor immediately or seek help at your nearest emergency room.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-TALK (8255).
(1), (2) Seasonal Affective Disorder (sad)