Have you heard about ‘winter blues’? Maybe not exactly, but you’ve probably known it as ‘winter depression’, ‘seasonal depression’, or ‘seasonal affective disorder’.
Looking Into The Winter Blues: Shedding Light On Seasonal Sadness
Now that Christmas, holidays and the company of your loved ones are over, you may be feeling nostalgic as you come back to your daily routine. However, this feeling can sometimes be much more serious than a simple post-holiday syndrome.
It is certainly true that there is a sad or depressive feeling during the winter season that is thought to be related to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter days of the year. Here we will try to shed light on when that feeling of winter lethargy, sadness or anxiety is actually a real mental health problem.
“Winter blues is a general term, not a medical diagnosis. It’s fairly common, and it’s more mild than serious. It usually clears up on its own in a fairly short amount of time,” says Dr. Matthew Rudorfer, a mental health expert at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Nevertheless, “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a well-defined clinical diagnosis that’s related to the shortening of daylight hours”. It interferes with daily functioning over a significant period of time and follows a regular pattern. It appears each year as the seasons change and it goes away several months later, usually during spring and summer.
Symptoms often begin in autumn as the days begin to shorten. They are most severe during December, January and February. The main symptoms include low mood and a loss of pleasure or interest in normal daily activities. Other depressive symptoms may include:
2 Low self-esteem.
3 Stress and anxiety.
4 Tiredness, lethargy, oversleeping.
5 Lack of concentration.
Beating The Winter Blues: Our Recommendations
1 Enjoy natural sunlight.
2 Exercise outdoors.
3 Follow a sleep routine. Practice relaxing activities before going to sleep.
4 Rely on your family and friends.
5 Include vitamin D in your daily diet. People with depression show low levels of vitamin D, and people with low levels of vitamin D are at greater risk of depression.
6 Seek professional assistance. A psychologist or psychiatrist will be able to make a diagnosis of your depressive symptoms based on how severe they are, how long they last, how they progress and the extent to which they prevent you from carrying out your daily activities.