Mountain View Medical Supply

Monday, January 26, 2015

Got the Winter Blues?

Why Do I Seem to Get So Gloomy Each Winter?  You may have what’s called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.  Sometimes beginning in late fall or early winter when natural sunlight is less available, a marked onset of depression occurs.  It’s thought the daily body rhythms become out-of-sync due to the reduced sunlight during the winter months.

Some people with year-round depression get worse in the winter; others experience SAD alone, struggling with darker moods only in the winter months.  It is estimated that approximately 9 million people are affected by SAD, and countless others experience mild forms of the winter doldrums. 

“Winter depression” was first identified in 1984 by a team of researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health.  SAD symptoms can include:
·         Sleeping too much
·         Fatigue during the daytime
·         Weight gain
·         Decreased interest in socializing and/or sex

Of course, SAD is more common for residents in northern latitudes.  Residents in Florida are less likely to experience SAD than residents in New Hampshire.  Also, women’s hormones are more likely to cause increased symptoms.  After menopause, SAD can become less common. 

What Can I Do to Help with SAD?  Going to therapy, or joining a support group may help.  Another idea is to log or write down your moods and negative thoughts to try and help change negative thought patterns.  For example, making an effort to not go over and over an upsetting incident, or your perceived shortcomings, will help. 

If you are currently taking anti-depressants, speak to your doctor if you experience increased depression during the winter months.  Together you can decide whether adjusting your dosage is called for. 

Getting outdoors in sunlight also helps.  Also, regular exercise, even if it’s a leisurely walk, has shown improvement of mood.  If weather is a factor in getting outside, walk the mall, go to your local recreation center or gym.  Or, setup a simple, inexpensive home gym with an exercise band, a few dumb bells and a pedlar exerciser. 

Maintain social activity, and talk with friends and family regularly.  Try to limit contact with those that bring your mood down, and engage more with those with positive attitudes. 

Resist the urge to overeat causing weight gain.  When eating out, ask for a to-go box and put half your meal in the box right away.  Avoid empty calorie foods such as candy and soda, and opt for fresh and lean foods. 

Of course you can always move south for the winter! 

Autumn begins September 22nd, winter begins December 21st, and spring begins March 20th every year.  Make note of the seasonal calendars so you can prepare yourself and make sure you follow through with a plan to minimize SAD symptoms.


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