Overcoming the Winter Blues

Winter Blues: Seasonal Depression, Symptoms, and Tips for Coping

As we dive deeper into this cold winter, many of us experience a plunge in our mood and energy. The drop in cognitive health seems to be almost parallel with the weather. It is often referred to as winter blues or seasonal affective disorder. As the days grow shorter, nights become longer, and days become colder, you may find yourself with limited activities during wintertime. Oftentimes people find themselves suffering from the winter blues as the festivities occur during this time and many are unable to spend it with their loved ones. People also find themselves with limited activities around this time of the year, especially if you are in a smaller town. If you or your loved one is struggling with seasonal depression, we can help. Here in Southlake, TX we are equipped with professionals able to provide you with accurate diagnostic and treatment, so you do not have to be on your own.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the name implies it is a type of depression related to changes in seasons. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) most often occurs during wintertime, making you feel less energetic and causing personality changes. It is thought that less daylight during winter, may trigger a chemical imbalance in the brain which leads to depression. It is thought that SAD is most common in women, young people, and those living far from the equator.

There is no exact known cause for seasonal affective disorder. Research shows that people suffering from SAD may have an imbalance of serotonin, which is the chemical that affects your mood. It is also suspected that their bodies are overproducing melatonin (the sleeping hormone), and there is a lack of Vitamin D. It is also thought that seasonal depression happens around the same time of the year every year, hence the term seasonal depression.

Just because you are aware this is seasonal depression does not mean you should not take it seriously. There is no reason to deal with this on your own and attempt to brush it off.

Symptoms: 

Symptoms of seasonal depression begin to show around early to late fall. It usually correlates with the change of the weather and the season.

 

What Can You Do?

Exercise 

Get moving! Your body will thank you and your mind will flourish after a workout. Exercise is proven to be a mood booster as well as help improve a person's self-esteem—which is also associated with mental health. Exercising is also known to reduce stress—leading to a happier life. The overall benefits of exercising outweigh any negatives you may have thought about, so give it a try!

Get Some Sun

Perhaps you have heard that sunlight is essential for a healthy life. It provides us with nutrients such as Vitamin D. This is a nutrient needed for clearer thinking and healthier emotional health. Yes, there are Vitamin D supplements however, there is nothing better than getting it from a natural source. If you suspect you are Vitamin D deficient and unable to obtain enough sunlight, it is recommended to check with your doctor first before taking supplements.

Sustain a Healthy Diet

It is okay to indulge with occasional treats however, you need to have a nutritious diet. What does a nutritious diet include? You need to include high-fiber foods such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, and cereals. Do not be afraid of carbohydrates, you need them to have a healthy balanced diet. You need to include enough fruits and vegetables in your daily intake. You should have 5 portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables each day! I know it can be hard for many of us, but this is where we obtain most of our essential nutrients. Make sure to include the natural fats in your diet, these include avocados, seeds, salmon, and other sources. Do not forget to hydrate! We need to stay hydrated to function properly. Try to obtain all your water intake from plain water and not sugary or carbonated drinks. 

Find a Fun & Exciting Activity

Perhaps you used to enjoy painting? Or because it is wintertime, you might want to grab your skiing gear and get moving! Try to do something different, something that challenges you. When we find ourselves living a mundane life, we start to see everything from a dull scope. Adding fun activities on the weekends can add a spark to your week and reactivate your senses. This might even be a fun family idea! You do not have to leave your house if you do not want to, or the weather does not permit. You can always try out new cooking or baking ideas, candle making, writing, painting, or even enjoying a nice book. Challenge yourself to try something new.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is known to be one of the most effective methods of treatment for patients with depression. CBT is a type of talk therapy that allows you to become aware of negative thinking and behaviors. This option is a great nonpharmaceutical approach, especially for those who suffer from seasonal depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) at Southlake, TX is a great option for you if you seek talk therapy for seasonal depression. Here at Dr. Messina & Associates, we provide you with the best psychiatric evaluation and treatment.

 

Getting Help

Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.

Author
Dr. Michael Messina

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