In the winter, it’s common to desire to stay inside or feel a little more depressed than usual. But suppose the winter blues begin to impair every aspect of your life. In that case, you might be suffering from a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition is a seasonal depression that recurs every year.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD symptoms typically start in the fall and last into the winter. It’s important to note that Seasonal Affective Disorder can occasionally occur in the spring or summer. Commonly it’s seen more in the winter as reduced light is one of the leading causes. Your body’s natural mood enhancer, serotonin, drops due to decreased sunlight, which throws off your circadian rhythm.
While most winter blues are nothing to be concerned about, SAD can significantly reduce your quality of life. The following symptoms may suggest that you experience seasonal depression:
- Having difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Feeling exhausted all day long
- Gaining weight
- Depression or despair
- Feeling bad about oneself or guilty
- Avoiding individuals or pursuits that you once found enjoyable
- Having a negative attitude or stress
- A decline in desire for physical interaction
Tips for Reducing the Effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder
There are several things you can do to manage your mood if seasonal depression is weighing you down:
Adjust your sleep routine accordingly: You can control your circadian cycle and feel more rested by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
Eat in moderation: You might be tempted to munch on starchy or sugary meals in winter. Instead, plan your meals around three consistent meals each day.
Maintain a consistent mealtime schedule and consume a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and meats.
Exercise: Physical activity is one of the best methods to combat depressive or anxious moods. Your body’s serotonin and endorphin levels rise from taking this natural antidepressant, which improves your mood. Try to include at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each winter day.
Make and honor commitments to family members: To avoid loneliness and ward off bad thoughts, stay in touch with friends and family members throughout the winter.
Take part in things you like: Even if you might not feel like it, it’s crucial to carve out time for the interests and pursuits that make you happy.
Paying attention to your moods as the seasons change can help you be on top of any issues you may have. Talk with your physician if your mood swings and other symptoms become too difficult to bear.