Mountain View Medical Supply

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Overcome Winter Depression

In North America, it is estimated that 50-60 percent of the population is affected by winter depression. This means about half of the people you know are depressed in the wintertime! Winter depression is also called Seasonal Affective Disorder and symptoms include mild depression, lack of motivation and low energy.

Seasonal depression is most common north and south of the equator. Since people living nearest the equator have enough daylight hours to avoid the triggering hormone imbalance that causes depression. If you don't get enough daylight, you produce quite a bit of melatonin, and melatonin is manufactured by the pineal gland which is very light-sensitive. The build up of melatonin makes you sleepy and in large doses, contributes to depression and saps your energy.

Light therapy is a great way to extend the “daylight hours” in your day. There are several devices on the market specifically for winter depression, or you can simply buy “grow” lights that are used for plants. Do not use standard fluorescent bulbs as they can have the opposite affect. Research shows that the best time for light therapy treatment is early in the morning. If you prefer natural light, open all shades in your home or office and make sure to get exposure from safer morning and late afternoon light. The trick is to expose your eyes to as much daylight as possible.

Other ways to aid in seasonal depression are:
* Stick to a daily routine. Go to bed and rise in the morning at the same time each day, if possible.
* Simply decide to not let weather affect your mood. You cannot change the weather, so simply accept it, and try to embrace the season.
* Improve your health by eating healthier foods and exercising regularly. Be sure to have home exercise routines in the event bad weather prevents a trip to the gym.
* Drink plenty of water. Dehydration occurs easily during winter too.
* Plan your day, make a list of what you want to accomplish and check things off as you complete them. This provides a sense of accomplishment.
* Avoid dark or depressing material. Read a lighter book, or avoid the news on days where you feel more depressed.
* Avoid alcohol because it is actually a depressant and can make symptoms worse.
* Treat yourself! Having something to look forward to creates anticipation and excitement. Plan a day trip, a day at the spa, a party, or the ever popular winter vacation.
* Get social. Reach out to friends and family on a regular basis. Simply chatting to someone daily and having a lunch or dinner date once a week can help you feel supported. Isolating yourself can only make things worse.

Of course if none of these suggestions work, and you feel overwhelmed, talk to a professional.


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