Tips for Coping With Winter Blues

We all know that winter brings colder temperatures. What can those cold temperatures bring? The winter blues. Also known as “seasonal affective disorder” or SAD, the winter blues affect more than 10 million people. Another 10-20% of Americans suffer from a milder form of SAD. What are the signs of seasonal affective disorder? Symptoms of SAD can include difficulty concentrating, changes in mood (especially feeling depressed), level of energy, appetite/weight, ability to sleep, and memory.

The specific cause of SAD is still not completely clear. However, the reduced amount of sunlight can decrease the amounts of serotonin and melatonin. Those are chemicals in our bodies which regulate mood and and sleep. According to one study, 53% of people who suffered a traumatic brain injury suffered depression afterwards. SAD is a subdivision of depression, so it’s possible that SAD can affect TBI patients. How can you cope with seasonal affective disorder?

Tips for Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder:

  1. Exercise. One of the best ways to conquer SAD is with a good workout routine. If you already have a workout routine, stick to it! If not, this is a great time to develop and implement one. Exercising helps override the negative feelings by focusing your mind on pushing forward and completing the workout at hand. When you’re done working out, you feel accomplished!
  2. A Brisk Morning Walk. Yes, those lower temperatures aren’t fun for long periods of time. However, taking a short walk after sunrise (especially on a sunny day) exposes you to fresh, crisp air which studies show can help you calm down and improve your mood.
  3. Cut Down on the Alcohol. There may be a link between alcoholism and seasonal affective disorder. Studies show that SAD can trigger, or be a result of alcoholism in some people. It’s okay to partake in festivities from time to time, but watching your intake is also important.
  4. Take In The Sunshine. If it’s a sunny day, get outside and absorb the natural light! Sunshine causes our bodies to produce vitamin D, which is proven to improve mood.
  5. Vitamin D Supplements. When there’s just not enough sunshine to go around, our bodies don’t produce the vitamin D we need. Thankfully, vitamin D supplements exist and are easily purchasable. Vitamin D can be ordered online or purchased at local pharmacies, supermarkets, and big box stores such as Target and Walmart.

No matter the severity of your symptons, the winter blues (or SAD) is not something to take lightly and it’s important to take action. Depending on the severity of SAD, begin by implementing the tips above to see if they result in any improvement. If there is no change, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. If left untreated, seasonal affective disorder can lead to alcoholism, depression, and in extreme cases can even lead to suicidal thoughts. If at any time you or someone you know experiences thoughts of suicide or self-harm, click here or call 1-800-273-8255 to get help immediately.

Posted on January 17 2018 in Blog

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