Tips for Managing Seasonal Depression

December 7, 2022

Sharing Kind Words With Others Can Warm The Winter Months 

With each change of the season comes new unknowns, challenges, and changes to our everyday routines. Take the transition from the Fall months to Winter, for example, some might find this change taxing and almost expect that their mood tends to be the most impacted as the days get shorter and darker. About five percent of adults in the United States experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and about ten to twenty percent get a milder form of the winter blues. While researchers have yet to be able to pinpoint the reasoning, some possible causes have been linked to our biological clock changing, brain chemical imbalance, vitamin D deficiency, melatonin boost, or due to cynical thought processes. Cause or no cause, it’s still important to focus on our mental health and make sure it’s a top priority when considering your wellness and health.

Winter blues, or periods of sadness, can be common at the beginning and end of seasons for some, and often most experience when daylight becomes shorter when entering the Winter months. But experience SAD is more serious, and impacts can greatly affect someone’s mood, thoughts, daily activities, and motivation levels. If you have noticed similar seasonal changes or do not feel like yourself mood-wise, it might be time to discuss things with your general doctor or seek support from a mental health professional. You can also be mindful of how much sunlight you get throughout your day or investigate getting a lightbox if outside temperatures are not permitting outdoor activities. In addition, it’s always good to eat a well-balanced diet, get good amounts of sleep, exercise, and stay in touch with friends.

It is also important to acknowledge that with the Winter months come holidays, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year, and for some anniversaries and birthdays. We frequently hear from families that the Winter holiday season can be challenging and that the absence of their loved ones can be depressing and demotivating when engaging in festive cheer. While grief can vary depending on the personal situation, the associated feelings and symptoms can be related, impact, or increase the likelihood of experiencing seasonal depression, winter blues, or SAD.

But isolating yourself or finding unhealthy coping strategies can be counterintuitive and might worse depressive symptoms. We encourage you to create a list of healthy coping strategies this winter and to place value on taking care of yourself. Consider how you might lean on others for support this winter or how you can spread kindness through small acts of kindness. Sometimes we cannot change our situation, but we can make positive impacts and let others know how much they mean to us during challenging times. Also, if you frequently expect increased symptoms or decreased mood when changing seasons, work with your doctor to create a treatment plan and try to start that treatment a couple of months before to prevent the severity.

National Institute of Mental Health; Seasonal Affective Disorder

Cleveland Clinic; Seasonal Depression

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