Is the winter season making you feel a little more tired and irritable than usual?
If you ever notice your mood starting to resemble the landscape you see—cold, dark, and melancholy—then you may be suffering from the so-called “winter blues”.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is the medical term for this winter depression.
However, many still claim that it’s a myth saying that people with this condition are just sad, but not suffering from SAD.
But, recent multiple researchers are dismissing this myth because they learned that feeling down during the holiday season could be a sign of a real medical condition.
Winter blues are a real thing, and, in this article, you’ll learn more about this condition—its symptoms and treatment options.
What is SAD?
The terms “winter blues” and “SAD” are usually interchangeable, but basically, it describes a type of depression that often comes and goes with the season.
Most people with SAD typically begin experiencing its symptoms during the start of the fall and continues toward the winter months, when the days are shorter and colder.
Seasonal affective disorder usually goes away during the brighter months of spring and summer.
However, there’s also summer depression which is the opposite of SAD.
Although feeling down during the holiday season could be a sign of SAD, it’s crucial that you know the other symptoms of this condition which are listed below so that you can easily recognize it:
- A decline in energy level and constant fatigue
- Low mood; feeling depressed nearly every day
- Problems with sleeping (either oversleeping or difficulty in falling asleep)
- Changes in appetite (either undereating or overeating)
- Loss of interest in doing any activity and socializing
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Feeling agitated, hopeless, or guilty
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Social withdrawal or self-isolation
Don’t get confused between seasonal affective disorder and major depression though symptoms are similar.
The major difference lies in the seasonality of SAD.
Normally, these symptoms will go away as the season changes, and people with this condition can go back to functioning as usual.
How To Beat Winter Blues?
You may be feeling a little blue today but the good news is that winter blues could be treated.
There are sound pieces of scientific evidence that can support this idea, here are some of the ways you could beat winter blues:
1. Get light therapy treatment
The lack of daylight is one of the causes of having SAD, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that treatment would involve getting more light.
Experts suggest that you use light therapy lamps for seasonal affective disorder because this can expose you to your much-needed sunlight using a synthetic lightbox.
Remember to consult your doctor before purchasing a light therapy lamp.
Be sure that you expose yourself to 10,000 lux of cool-white fluorescent light positioned, at least, 12 to 18 inches from the lamp for about 20 to 60 minutes daily or based on your doctor’s recommendation.
2. Seek counseling
Going through therapy with a licensed counselor may result in a dramatic improvement in your mood.
Although SAD is seasonal, it’s not good for your overall health to suffer from its symptoms for a long period.
Just like with treating depression, you can seek psychological help to be able to understand your feelings more and recognize the things that may influence your behavior and trigger this condition.
3. Consider medication
The symptoms of SAD can be mild or severe.
If you’re experiencing severe symptoms of SAD, you may be prescribed by your doctor to take a few medications to treat your condition.
Common medication for SAD includes lexapro or prozac which are both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
When taking medication, keep in mind that you should follow your primary care provider’s instructions such as how long you should be taking it and how often.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions to your doctor, especially on things like your medication’s side effects.
4. Try natural remedies
For those who prefer natural remedies, there are still many ways that can help prevent or aid winter blues.
Of course, these natural remedy options may give you better results if you do them alongside other treatment options that were mentioned earlier.
Here are some natural remedies that may help treat your winter blues:
- Try to get outdoors and go for a short walk.
- Encourage yourself to engage in regular exercise as much as possible.
- Eat a diet that’s rich in green and leafy vegetables. Skip on sweets and enjoy dark chocolate instead.
- Spend time on self-care by doing activities such as doing meditation or treating yourself to good food, a spa, or a nice sleep.
- Get help from a loved one. As much as possible, avoid isolating yourself from your friends and family during the holiday season.
Do You Have The Winter Blues?
Winter blues are real.
However, there are many individuals who experience this winter depression who usually brush off the possibility that they’re suffering from SAD.
Take the signs and symptoms of SAD seriously because, similarly to major depression, this condition can worsen over time.
If you recognize too many symptoms from the list above, then you should consider visiting your primary care provider to get a better diagnosis and a treatment plan.