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How to Beat Winter Depression

Updated on August 6, 2014

How to beat the winter blues and get rid of seasonal affective disorder symptoms

During the winter months many people suffer from winter blues or seasonal affective disorder. The symptoms range from mild to severe and can seriously disaffect the quality of ones life. Luckily there are safe and natural treatment options that can help reduce and even eliminate symptoms of winter depression. Please note if your depression is so severe that you have thoughts of suicide or hurting others it is a medical emergency and you should go to the hospital immediately.

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Symptoms of Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

  • Depression
  • Fatigue and oversleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite changes and weight gain
  • Hopelessness
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Heavy feeling in the arms and/or legs

What causes the Winter Blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder?

The exact cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. However there are several factors that are thought to contribute to winter depression.

Decreased sunlight is probably the number one cause. Sunlight is a natural provider of vitamin D which helps to regulate mood. Sunlight also helps to regulate our sleep patterns and without regular sleep we can suffer emotionally. Additionally reduced sunlight can result in the body producing less serotonin and this is thought to trigger depression.

The change in season can affect the balance of melatonin which is a natural hormone. This can play a significant role in both mood and sleep patterns.

A more sedentary lifestyle is typical for many people during winter months. It's often too cold outside to do normal physical activity that would otherwise be enjoyed such as walking, swimming, etc. Exercise has been proven to play a role in depression and overall well being.

Staying inside more often in stagnant air is another potential cause of winter depression. Studies are starting to show that there's a link between mood and the quality of air we breathe. If there are toxins, molds and chemicals in our homes and offices then this can potentially affect emotional levels.

Winter Depression Poll

Do you feel more depressed during the winter months?

See results

Video on the difference between Sad and the Winter Blues

SAD Light Therapy Box to Help Beat the Winter Blues

Light therapy helps to treat SAD or the winter Blues by simulating natural sunlight. This in turn affects brain checmicals linked to mood and helps to reduce or elimate SAD symptoms. Mayo Clinic states that light therapy is proven to be effective in treating symtpoms of seasonal affective disorder. Light therapy can also help treat sleep disorders and other types of depression. It also helps to treat certain skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema or jaundice and can even improve the quality of your skin. However when choosing a light therapy box it is important to find one that will filter out harmful UV rays.

Get this Sunshine Simulator SAD Light Therapy on Amazon.com!

Exercise

Exercise not only helps you to look better but it helps you feel better too. It increases energy, reduces stress, and helps your mind to stimulate those feel good chemicals that improve mood. This can be found in the form of a walk (which also increases exposure to the sun), sports, yoga, going to the gym or zumba. Zumba is particularly great because it's one of the most fun ways to workout so it's easier to get yourself to workout because you'll have fun while doing it.

Take a Vacation

Whoever said that you can't escape from your problems? Taking a vacation during the winter months to a sunnier place can do wonders for your spirit. Not only does it give you something to look forward to but the greater amount of sun exposure can physically help you get over the winter blues. Vacations can also help you to de-stress, re-connect with loved ones and provide some much needed "me time".

Photo melissamio - all rights reserved

Therapy and Antidepressants

Winter depression can be treated the same as other types of depression and can respond well to antidepressants. Bupropion is a drug that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of seasonal affective disorder.

Therapy can also play a great role in improving winter depression and can be a great long term solution as an alternative to drugs that can help with managing stress, substance abuse, self-esteem and sexual health. Additionally it can bring a level of education specific to seasonal affective disorder such as sleep education, ideas for wintertime activities and more.

Air purifiers can help improve mood

Breathing in fresh clean air is thought to help increase mood and emotional levels. Help get the toxins and chemicals out of the air your breath with an air purifier.

What do you do to stay cheerful in the winter months?

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    • vineliner57 profile image

      Hal Gall 3 years ago from Bloomington, IN

      I find that Vitamin D3 supplements help a lot, along with allowing plenty of sunshine in through the windows, and staying somewhat active. I say somewhat active, because I really don't like exercising!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We go away to warm climates.

    • Jhale Moreno profile image

      Jhale Moreno 4 years ago

      Nutrition is the best cure to depression. Believe or not, people avoid cholesterol so much that they end up becoming deficient in it very easily. Additionally, omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin D are very, very rare in the diet, but alleviate depression the most. Lastly, sugars and hard to digest grains, beans, nuts and seeds will also cause generally bad health unless used knowledgeably.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      I've read about this in the past. I really like the idea of taking a vacation.

    • tasrex profile image

      tasrex 4 years ago

      Here at 42 Degrees South in Tasmania, the days are short and the nights are long. It can get depressing. Every year we say we should go north for the winter. But when the spring comes and the island explodes with flowers and birds, we know that the wait was worthwhile.

    • NoYouAreNot profile image

      NoYouAreNot 4 years ago

      You can't beat winter depression. Only way out -- migrate, like a bird.

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      I just try to stay warm and wait for spring.

    • PinkstonePictures profile image

      PinkstonePictures 4 years ago from Miami Beach, FL

      Get outside as much as possible especially if you live somewhere with very short winter days it will give you a boost until those lovely long summers return.

    • Dave Lynch profile image

      David Edward Lynch 4 years ago from Port Elizabeth, South Africa

      I try to keep myself busy with something, such as the internet, or going for a walk, but I don't always get it right.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 4 years ago

      For me there's always something fun to do, no matter what the weather or season might be. And while living in Florida, blaming winter for being depressed wouldn't sound very convincing, would it... lol

    • andrewdar profile image

      andrewdar 4 years ago

      I walk with my dog every morning. In the winter monthes,it makes me cheerful a lot! Thank you Melissamio for creating the lens which helps to overcome a winter dperssion.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 4 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      We walk during the week in winter 3-5 times a week and get away a couple of times a month on weekends. It rains here a lot during the winter so there's no such thing as walking in too much rain. Blessed!

    • dragonlildragon profile image

      dragonlildragon 4 years ago

      Today i visited your well written and informative lens and saw your beautiful picture and the depression went away, like sunshine breaking through the clouds. :-)

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 4 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I find that the biggest problem I have in the winter months is being cooped up in the house, mostly because it's too slippery or wet to go out and walk to get some fresh air. So much of Winter in the UK is wet and gloomy, I really miss the sunshine. When I lived in Indiana the winters were bitterly cold, but you would get days where there were no clouds to be seen, and the sunshine made you feel good. Nothing good about dark dreary days.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      I actually love the winter months. I get to catch up on my reading and serenity. Great lens.

    • CoolFool83 profile image

      CoolFool83 4 years ago

      Such a thoughtful lense. Really well written.

    • GuyB LM profile image

      GuyB LM 4 years ago

      I avoid depression in the wintertime by thinking about things I really enjoy. For example, I love skiing, taking walks on a snowy day and curling up next to a warm fire to read some risque magazines. Maybe I don't get depressed because I like winter? Wait, maybe that explains why I am so depressed during the summer! You have changed my outlook on life. Thanks for the lens.

    • TACTCI LM profile image

      TACTCI LM 4 years ago

      After the basics, like force drinking water in the winter, it's important to stay cheerful. Sometimes I've heard that going shopping for a new hat and coat could help!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 4 years ago from United States

      This is excellent advice to beat the winter blues! I don't like the cold, but I have to say that I really do enjoy seeing snow. Now, I have no trouble staying in bed a little longer on those cold days :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I hate winter because I find you can never get warm enough. I just love summer no matter how hot it is.

      Great lens

    • CampingmanNW profile image

      CampingmanNW 4 years ago

      Get up, get out and about, exercise.....great lens by the way.

    • profile image

      GetAcneFree 4 years ago

      I try to stay active -- it's definitely more difficult when it's snowy, icy, and dreary outside! Great Lens :)

    • mrsclaus411 profile image

      mrsclaus411 4 years ago

      This is a very informative lens. I learned a bit more about Seasonal Affective Disorder and how one can combat them.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      No matter how cold it gets, you still have to get out. It's too easy to get down staying in sedentary all the time.

    • profile image

      cmadden 4 years ago

      We have a thee-legged cat named Odan who is generally good for a laugh - who'd a thought the one with the missing back leg would be the most active (and devious)? And then there's Callie, a great lap kitty, and Shadow the megapurrasaurus, and Sylvester, our newest family member, who can finally keep Odan in line, sort of (when they're not in cahoots, anyway).

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      Physical activity and communication with friends always help.