Facts about Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) / winter depression / winter blues

Winter Days Are Here Again!

Some people eagerly look forward to the winter days which are full of enjoyment due to celebrations, festivals, and parties.

Then there are some people for whom winters herald feelings of sadness and their days seems

quite, cold, expressionless, colorless and depressive. Is this how you feel every year during winter and do these feelings automatically go off in spring or summer?

If yes, then you may be suffering from what is known as “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) / winter depression / winter blues”. SAD can affect your mental & physical health, your day to day activities and also your relationships.

“Every darkness can be washed off with a ray of light”. Similarly, every person suffering from SAD can feel better.

For this, let’s understand SAD better.

What causes SAD/ winter depression / winter blues?

Winter days are short and nights are long. Even during the daytime most often there is reduced sunlight. And experts say that this reduced exposure to sunlight may cause the brain to;

  • Produce higher amounts of the hormone melatonin, which is responsible for causing lethargy and depression. (1)
  • Produce lesser quantity of a neurotransmitter – serotonin which is also known as a mood enhancer. Thus, less serotonin means more feelings of depression, along with symptoms of fatigue and weight gain. (2)

What are the symptoms of SAD during winter?

Symptoms come and go at about the same time each year.

Following are some of them;

  • Depressed mood, low self-confidence
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  • Lack of interest in usual activities
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  • Feelings of sadness, uselessness, loneliness and despair
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  • Feeling angry, irritable, stressed, or nervous
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  • Unexplained aches and pains
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  • Increased craving for carbohydrates
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  • Increased appetite and weight gain
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  • Changes in sleeping pattern or feeling more sleepy
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  • Tiredness and lack of energy; reduced sex drive
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  • Trouble concentrating
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  • Increased usage of drugs or alcohol for comfort (2, 3, 4)
  •     

 

 

 

 

What are the treatment options available for SAD during winter?

Following are the treatment options available for SAD;

 

Light therapy: Light therapy is the main treatment option for SAD.

As we know that light plays an important role in the regulation of melatonin and serotonin and is effective in almost 85% of cases.
Usually, a special light source is used which is far more intense than normal indoor light and may mimic outdoor light to some extent. Some feel better with just one sitting only while others may require multiple sittings with a professional person/doctor to monitor the benefits of the light therapy.

 

 

Medication & psychotherapy: in some cases you may also need some additional therapy to combat your SAD. In such cases, consult your doctor, he might help you with some medications like antidepressants etc. (4)

    

Tips to combat SAD during winter / self-help

SAD / winter depression can make you feel more depressed with lack of motivation for self-help or for doing any activity to keep you feel motivated. Try the following tips;

  1. Go out in sun and try to absorb as much natural light as possible during winter
  2. Regular exercise can definitely help you to remain energetic and feel good
  3. Organise or attend family get-togethers or meet up with close friends, who make you feel good
  4. Eat the right balanced diet – recommended that you go a little low on the carbohydrates
  5. Take time out for yourself
  6. Start a hobby

The above tips will definitely help ease your journey through the lonely winter days and will help you deal better with SAD.
Now based on your doctor’s recommendation you can get medicines delivered at your doorstep through Medlife.com

 

Have you ever felt the “winter blues”? How did you deal with them? You can share your tips, views & experiences on SAD/winter depression/winter blues.

 

Note:

  • Neurotransmitter is a chemical substance used to send and receive signals
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