During the winter months we tend to eat more sleep more and experience more ups and downs during the shorter days. Winter can cause some people to experience weight gain and a lack of energy but it can also bring on a form of clinical depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Research by the Mayo Clinic reports SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men, but men may have more-severe symptoms. Young people have a higher risk of winter SAD than older adults. Living far from the equator and having family history of SAD or other forms of depression may increase your risk of seasonal affective disorder.
Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:
- Cravings for sweets and starchy foods
- Weight gain
- Heavy feeling in the arms or legs
- Noticeable drop in energy
- Chronic Fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating at work and at home
- Irritability, Constant agitation and anxiety
- Avoidance of social situations
- Increased sensitivity to social rejection
- Hopelessness (including suicidal thoughts)
Don’t brush off these seasonal feelings as simple “winter blues” that you have to tough out or just shake off. Here are some effective remedies to keep your mood, motivation and movement up throughout the winter.
- Exercise regularly, even in cold weather. A brisk walk outdoors can improve mood and help combat weight gain.
- Physical activity helps relieve stress and anxiety.
- A healthy diet rich in Vit D, E and B
- Light therapy is a common treatment for winter SAD. Light box therapy mimics outdoor light and can improve mood in as little as two weeks.
- Decreased sunlight hours can lead to a Vitamin D deficiency. Supplementing your diet with a high quality Vitamin D3 supplement can help regulate mood.
- Mind-body therapies that may help relieve depression symptoms include: Acupuncture, yoga, meditation, Guided imagery and Massage therapy
It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for several days or weeks at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, be sure to see your doctor.