Season Affective Disorder (SAD)

WebMD defines Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD (also called winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, and seasonal depression) as a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter.

The “winter blues” or SAD has some common general symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Lethargy
  • Overeating
  • Irritability
  • Feeling down and unsociable

The good news is there are some simple things you can do to beat the winter blues!  If your symptoms are so bad that you can’t live a normal life, see your doctor for medical help.

  1. Keep active
    Research has shown that a daily one-hour walk in the middle of the day could be as helpful as light treatment for coping with the winter blues.
  2. Get outside
    Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on brighter days. Inside your home, choose pale colors that reflect light from outside, and sit near windows whenever you can.
  3. Keep warm
    Being cold makes you more depressed. It’s also been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half.
  4. Eat healthily
    A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you from putting on weight over the winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  5. Take up a new hobby
    Keeping your mind active with a new interest seems to ward off symptoms of the winter blues. It could be anything, such as playing bridge, singing, knitting, joining a gym, keeping a journal, or writing a blog. The important thing is that you have something to look forward to and concentrate on.
  6. See your friends and family
    It’s been shown that socializing is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.

The information contained in this article should never take the place of a physician’s care or assessment. When dealing with any type of depression, you should consult your family physician’s office.

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