Winter Blues is a type of depression that occurs during the shortest, coldest, and darkest days of the year, but dissipates come spring. According to the NIH, 14-20% of people experience some form of seasonal mood changes, while about 9% of those people have a more serious form of winter blues, Seasonal Affective Disorder. Those who live in Northern US, Canada, or Europe are 8x more likely to experience winter blues than those who live in Florida or Mexico. Women are 2-3x more likely than men to feel depressed in the winter.
Some typical symptoms of winter blues include:
- Low energy
- Increased sleep
- Apathetic, Unmotivated, and Bored
- Less interested in social activities
- Irritable and moody
- Craving carbs, overeating, and gaining weight
How do you know if you have crossed the line between Winter Blues and SAD?
According to the American Psychological Association, SAD is diagnosed if you have experienced symptoms seasonally for 2 years. In addition to the winter blues symptoms, other symptoms of SAD can include:
- Poor concentration
- Increased use of addictive substances
- Reduced libido
- Lowered immunity
- Increased symptoms of PMS
Lack of sunlight is the most recognized theory about what causes winter blues. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is produced every night when it starts to get dark to help induce sleep. During the winter, people with winter blues produce a higher than normal amount of melatonin. Those affected by the winder blues also tend to have lower levels of serotonin, which is the body’s natural “Happy Drug”.
Winter Blues can also be caused by sleep disruptions as a result of the abnormal levels of melatonin, and Vitamin D deficiency due to the lack of sunlight.
There are several different ways to prevent or recover from the winter blues including, but not limited to :
- Eating a healthy diet
- Taking supplements such as omega, vitamin D, Trytophan, and St. John’s Wort
- Wearing bright colors
- Engaging in physical activity
- Hanging with positive people
- Using a sun lamp/light therapy
- Sticking to a sleep routine
- Taking a vacation to a warm destination
- Reading a good book or watching a good movie
- Creating and accomplishing To-do lists
- Considering consulting a mental health professional
Essentially engaging yourself in any activities that will be positive for your overall well-being is ideal for beating the winter blues. Now don’t let the winter blues get you down any longer! Add positivity into your life!
National Institute of Mental Health. Seasonal Affective Disorder. www.nimh.nih.gov
Seasonal Depression. Cleveland Clinic. 25 May 2018.
American Psychological Association https://www.apa.org/
Written by: Ashley Rolley