With a decrease of daylight during the fall and winter months, some people manifest depressive symptoms or so called “winter blues.” It is also called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Although, SAD is not a formal diagnosis, it is a form of depression that typically occurs between the months of October through April. Between 10-20% of people can be impacted every year in northern climates.
Symptoms of SAD may include: unhappy, sad or irritable mood, low interest in work and other activities, increase in appetite, craving carbohydrates, weight gain, hypersomnia, sluggishness, and social withdrawal. Typically seasonal depression disappears in March or April due to increase in light.
For some individuals SAD can be physiological and attributed to a lack of a vitamin D due to lower light exposure. For some, however, SAD is psychological. The time between Halloween and New Years has many Holidays. If Holidays are associated with negative family experiences it can become a trigger for negative mood. Also, the winter itself may have negative connotations such as shoveling in the cold, treacherous driving conditions, slipping and falling on the ice, or past episodes of depression. Did you know that these issues can be effectively dealt with in psychotherapy?
If your mood doesn’t improve in spite of good self-care and nutrition, the cause might be trauma, grief, or loss. Consider Accelerated Resolution Therapy and EMDR Therapy, which are very effective methods for addressing trauma, grief & loss. These therapies successfully eliminate negative association and triggers as well as improve mood.
Consider Light therapy via light box 10,000 lux. You can find many options online such as on Amazon and other sites. Search for light therapy for depression or SAD. As little as 15 minutes exposure per day can make a large difference in mood improvement. Online you can find light therapy boxes priced as low as $30.
Increase regular exercise and preferable outdoors and in a day light. Did you know that light to moderate walking three times per week can significantly boost your mood? Take off the sunglasses when walking outside. This will allow for more light exposure through the eyes to naturally produce vitamin D.
Supplement with a vitamin D and a fish oil. Work with your doctor on this. A doctor can test for vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D and fish oil can interfere with some psychotropic medication, therefore, exercise caution. You may need a prescription by a doctor for some forms of vitamin D.