When It’s More Than the Winter Blues

For many people, “winter blues” is not just a case of doldrums but a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This mood condition typically occurs annually, in late fall or early winter, with the change in daylight saving time and the advent of earlier sunsets.

Who Feels SAD?

Women are more prone to SAD than men, as well as individuals who live farther from the equator or those who have a history of clinical depression or bipolar disorder.

Common SAD symptoms include loss of energy, appetite changes, social withdrawal, weight changes, sluggish movement, irritability, increased sleep and hopelessness. Although a specific cause of SAD is still a mystery, a person’s genes, chemical makeup and age can affect the onset of the illness.

You’ll Be Happy to See SAD Go

Although there is no known SAD prevention, practical treatment and medication options can manager the disorder. The following home care recommendations can help lessen symptoms:

  • Lighten up. Open blinds and sit closer to sunny windows. Consider adding home skylights or trimming tree branches that obscure daylight.
  • Head outdoors. A long daytime walk or sunbath on a bench can boost overall mood and increase levels of helpful vitamin D.
  • Exercise consistently. Regular physical exertion reduces anxiety and stress and suppresses SAD symptoms, plus enhances a sense of well-being.
  • Connect with others. Interacting with others lifts the spirits and helps a person feeling blue experience love and support.

You may want to consider starting SAD treatment before symptoms normally start to experience a brighter mood and higher energy…come rain or shine.


About the Author

Lois Young-Tulin, PhD, is an Assistant Geriatric Care Manager at Complete Care Strategies