Ever feel like you have a case of the “winter blues”?
This seasonal funk is actually a type of depression related to the change in seasons, but you’re not alone. Many people have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which generally starts in the fall and lasts through the winter months. Often people feel like they have less energy or may have mood swings. However, there are things you can do to help keep your mood and motivation constant throughout the year.
Symptoms of winter-onset SAD, aka winter depression, include: oversleeping, appetite changes (craving high carbohydrate foods), irritability, tiredness/low energy, and weight gain. It is normal to have some days where you feel down, but if this continues for days at a time and you cannot seem to enjoy things you like, it may be time to talk to your doctor.
The common factor which plays into SAD is the decreased hours of sunlight during the winter. This can cause a disruption to your biological clock. The shorter daylight hours in the winter may throw off your circadian rhythm and lead to feelings of depression. Seratonin is a brain chemical that affects your mood. During the winter, levels of their neurotransmitter may drop causing depression. Lastly, a drop in melatonin during the change in seasons can affect your mood and sleep patterns.
There are medications and treatments to help with SAD, but these “home remedies” may help with your winter blues. Make your home or office environment sunnier and brighter. Open blinds, trim tree branches that block sunlight, or sit closer to bright windows. Get outside! Take a long walk, eat lunch at a nearby park, or simply sit on a bench and soak up the sun. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help. Spend some time outside in the morning. Regular exercise and other types of physical activity help relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase SAD symptoms. Being more fit can make you feel better about yourself, too, which can lift your mood!