The winter blues are a less serious depression than seasonal affective disorder, although both should be treated. The main symptoms can include:
- increased fatigue
- finding it hard to concentrate
- weight gain
Women – and those with clinical depression and bipolar disorder – tend to experience SAD more than others.
Melatonin and Serotonin’s Role in SAD
The real cause of seasonal depression is still unknown, but it can be traced to lack of sunlight, genetics and brain chemicals. Some studies have said the main reason could be that certain people have sensitivity to light, or lack of light. Because there is less exposure to sunlight in the winter the cause may be, for some, that too much melatonin, or too little serotonin is being created.
- Melatonin is released from the pineal gland when we are in the dark, and this is what makes us tired.
- Generally, decreased serotonin is the culprit of depression. Add in overcast skies and more time spent indoors during the cold months of winter, and this could amount to increased depression.
6 Tips to Fend Off the Winter Blues
Read on for ways to overcome seasonal affective disorder:
- Visit your doctor. By knowing your medical background, your doctor can help you more than anyone else. Different approaches work for different people and they will figure out exactly how you can be treated.
- Try light therapy. This can mean taking a walk early in the morning or sitting in front of a window of your home that gets the most sunlight. Some individuals go as far as getting a sun simulation lamp or light box. They can be set to turn on at a certain time in the morning, so it is just like waking up to the sun. Having one of these along with going outside in the early morning is said to work like antidepressants.
- Talking and writing. Both are great forms of therapy, even in other seasons. Talk to friends more or write in a journal. Releasing your negative thoughts can help cleanse your mind and make room for more positive thoughts.
- Get involved. Even though the weather may be less than desirable, you should try and go out and participate in activity. Visit the gym or exercise at home, do arts and crafts, or make plans with a friend to catch up over coffee.
- Herbal remedies and supplements. Supplementation may help those who are not, or don’t want to be, on medication. A supplement like Healthy Mood combines vitamins, herbs and amino acids to support a healthy mind, a positive outlook and promotes emotional and mental well-being.
- Alternative therapy. Yoga, acupuncture, meditation or massage can all help improve your mood as well.