The winter months can sometimes be difficult ones for folks who struggle with depression. The shorter days with reduced sunlight, imbalances in melatonin and seratonin, and decreased opportunities for social contact may all play a role along with our genetic predisposition to mood disorders. Some deal with serious issues related to the change in seasons and suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that may require care from a physician and/or a mental health provider. Folks with SAD deal with significant symptoms at about the same time every year, with no other explanation for the change in their mood. Other folks may find themselves just feeling a little more blue than usual.
Here is a list of some of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Loss of energy
- Social Withdrawal
- Significant changes in sleep or appetite
While it’s normal for us to feel blue occasionally, if these symptoms persist or you’re having thoughts of suicide see your doctor or mental health provider right away. If your symptoms are not this serious but you are feeling a bit blue, try these things to lift your mood:
- Increase your exposure to sunlight… Raise your blinds. Bundle up and sit out in the sun. Take a walk on a sunny day.
- Increase your exercise. Even 15-20 minutes may boost your mood.
- Increase your social contact. Call a friend and go for a walk!
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of protein and fresh vegetables.
- Engage in mind-body therapies such as yoga, meditation, prayer, massage.
The challenge is that when we feel blue our tendency is to hibernate and do less. But that is exactly the opposite of what improves our mood! Withdrawing usually makes us feel worse. So if you can get up and get started with any of these activities you have a better chance to improve your mood.