Do you have the winter blues? Each year, this season of winter sports and snowmen drains millions of people of all their energy and joy. Many find themselves not only blue, but also sincerely depressed. This might be the case of Seasonal Affective Disorder; otherwise known as SAD. This season usually brings the negative symptoms of feeling grumpy, moody, loosing interest in usual activities, trouble concentrating, sleeping more but still feel tired, gaining weight, and eating more, and craving carbs.
The number of daylight hours decrease as the calendar gets closer to December 21, the winter solstice, and that has been a common trigger noted by researchers. This lack of sunlight causes our brains to produce less serotonin, which is what affects our mood. Although anyone can get SAD, it is most common in women, people between the ages of 15-55 (the risk goes down as you age), people with a close relative with SAD, and people who live far from the equator. So those who live in Alaska for example, 9.2 percent reported having SAD symptoms, compared to people from Florida at only 1.9 percent.
To prevent or reduce SAD symptoms, your best option is to get out and do something. Jog, walk your dog, bike, go for a walk around a lake, just get outside and move. Do something outside of yourself. Don’t sit in a corner of your house looking out at the world or watch 10 seasons of Greys Anatomy in one week because you have nothing better to do. GO OUT into the world and see that there can be joy even in the dreary days. If you can, these options would be best to do in the morning with the most sunlight to better your mood. Also to keep in mind is your eating habits. SAD sufferers tend to crave, so while sweets are delicious, that quick fix will potentially only lead to weight gain, which could only worsen your depression.
If you feel you have SAD, it is in fact depression and there are treatments. The types of treatments used to treat depression work for SAD. The most common treatment for this kind of depression is light therapy. Light therapy boxes send of an artificial light that helps balance for a lack of sunlight. Small boxes are often used with LED lights and the larger boxes, with florescent lights. You would sit in front of either you choose for 30-40 minutes per day. Don’t be sad anymore. Go enjoy life and make the most of each winter day. Show SAD what it looks like to be HAPPY. And remember, the days are already getting longer as we inch towards spring