When your mood starts to drop with the temperature.
Winter is in full swing and plummeting moods are a real thing, I promise you’re not alone in this. It is common for many people to feel more depressive symptoms as winter sets in and the long summer nights fade into our memories.
Many people call this, the winter blues. It is common in places where the winters are long, cold, and often hazy with clouds and grey skies. This is also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD (what a perfect acronym). This happens as the sunlight fades and our bodies are changing with the weather most often setting in as fall begins and letting up when spring starts to sprout.
SAD can cause symptoms related to depression including fatigue, irritability, weight loss or weight gain, over sadness and negative feelings, social withdraw, sleeping problems, difficulty concentrating, and can even cause thoughts of suicide or death.
SAD can be caused by a drop in serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter in your brain that has a lot to do with your mood. With small amounts of sunlight comes small amounts of serotonin. This is what can affect your irritability, negative thoughts, and unstable mood patterns. The sunlight also plays a role in our ability to create Melatonin. If Melatonin is off balance in our bodies is disrupts our sleep patterns which, as you learned from my last post, affect every other aspect of our lives, also creating more depressive symptoms like lack of motivation, fatigue, and a sense of overall moodiness.
There is not one great miracle way to “fix” SAD. However, I will give you a few options you can try to help relieve some of the symptoms.
1. One of the top treatments for SAD is light therapy (phototherapy). This is basically a lightbox that acts as the sun and tricks your brain into thinking it is getting natural outdoor sunlight and balances out the chemicals in your brain. Talk to your doctor about this option and where to purchase one.
2. Be active. If you can be active 3-4 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes a day your body will get endorphins that help you feel good in a natural way, much like the sunshine does (bonus points if you can do that run in the cold and get some fresh air!).
3. Psychotherapy is another great option to explore your feelings an get in touch with your emotions during this tough season. You can learn how to cope with these emotions and get to the deeper roots of some of them.
4. The connection between your body and mind can be much more powerful than you give it credit. Engaging in activities that are relaxing, and calming helps you to understand the language your body is speaking and love it a little more. Try at-home yoga (youtube has a million options) meditation (the muse headband is amazing), or even experimenting with music and art therapy allowing your creative side to show itself.