winter blues seasonal affective disorder

Do You Have the Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder?

It’s cold, dark, and dreary out there. You probably want to stay in bed where you’re cozy and warm with Netflix to keep you company. But if you’re losing interest in your hobbies and don’t seem to have any motivation or energy, you may be dealing with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression triggered by the lack of sunlight during the winter.

What is SAD?

SAD is a type of cyclic depression that follows the seasons. As the days get shorter, darker, and colder each autumn, you get less sunlight. A lack of natural light not only increases your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you feel sleepy but also interferes with your serotonin production. Serotonin is one of the brain chemicals responsible for regulates your mood.   

If you have SAD, you probably have noticed that you tend to get depressed when the season changes every year. Women are more likely than men to experience SAD, and the condition is most often diagnosed in people between the ages of 18-30.

In addition to depression symptoms such as intense feelings of sadness and hopelessness, lost interest in previously enjoyed activities, and disturbed sleep, SAD also causes:

  • Low energy and motivation
  • Sleeping too much
  • Overeating and weight gain
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Social hibernation

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and are concerned about SAD or depression, contact North Brooklyn Therapy for help today.

Tips for managing your mood in the winter

Whether you’re dealing the winter blues or SAD, you can take steps to boost your mood, even in the darkest months of the year.

Stay active

Getting at least 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise every day can help regulate your move. Whether you get out for a walk at lunchtime — which can also help you get a little sunlight — ride your bike to and from work, or even attend an exercise class with a friend, moving your body every day provides plenty of physical and mental health benefits.

Eat your veggies

Eating a healthy, nutritionally-balanced diet is good for you all year long. However, since you’re more likely to crave carbs and comfort foods during the winter, filling up with fruits and vegetables ensures you get the nutrients you need for optimal physical and mental health without excessive calories. You should also watch your alcohol consumption, as it’s a depressant that can make your SAD symptoms worse.

Spend time with friends

You might not want to venture outside, but social interactions are a great way to boost your moods. If it’s too cold to go out, invite some friends over to watch a movie or play a board game. Talking and laughing with friends can make the weather irrelevant.

Set manageable tasks

It’s important to feel like you’re accomplishing tasks. Setting a job or goal for each day, whether it’s work-related or something you need to do at home gives you a sense of purpose and achievement. However, don’t overload yourself. Having too much on your plate can be overwhelming and ultimately demotivating.

Get up at the same time every day

When it comes to getting up in the morning, don’t battle with your snooze button and let the dark win. A sunrise-simulating alarm clock can gradually brighten your room for 20-30 minutes before you need to wake up, which wakes you naturally and helps you feel refreshed.

Get professional help

Depression and SAD are serious mental health issues that can negatively impact all aspects of your life. If you’ve been feeling depressed or hopeless for two weeks or more, you may need help dealing with your emotions. At North Brooklyn Therapy, the compassionate and experienced therapists can help you explore your feelings and develop strategies to deal with depression and SAD.