How to Beat Winter Depression
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.
Symptoms of Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Fatigue and oversleeping
- Appetite changes and weight gain
- 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?
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.
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.