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Understanding the "Winter Blues" and how to cope

With the changing of the seasons going into the fall and winter months, it may seem like your energy is getting sapped and you start to feel moody. You may have called it seasonal depression, winter depression, or even the "winter blues". What this is medically known as is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Symptoms to look for?

It's important to recognize this to help keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the entire year. Typically, symptoms will appear during the late fall or early winter and go away during the spring and summer. Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may include:

  • Low energy or lack of motivation

  • Having depression nearly every day

  • Changes in weight or appetite

  • Feeling sluggish or agitated

  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating

  • Feeling of hopelessness or guilt

  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Potential Causes?

The causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) are currently unknown. Medical professionals are aware of some factors that may play a role. Your biological clock or circadian rhythm can be impacted with the reduced level of sunlight. This disrupts your internal clock and could lead to feelings of depression. A drop in serotonin may play a role in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as this brain chemical affects your mood. Also, the change in seasons can affect the melatonin levels in your body which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.

Strategies to work prevent SAD

Being able to prepare for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is one of the best approaches to address it. If you are or know someone who is prone to this, finding ways to get as much outdoor exposure will be a very important step in addressing this. It can be as easy as making sure to get out of your home everyday. Consider activities like:

  • Going to the office instead of working from home

    • If working from home, open the blinds and sit closer to the windows

  • Planning a walk or hike with friends to boost serotonin levels

  • Turning Netflix night at home into going to the movie theater

  • Working out at the gym and exercising

  • Looking for volunteer opportunities during the day

  • Joining a club or group to maintain social interactions

Though these are great ways to get ahead of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but if you feel down and out most days and can't get motivated to do the things that you normally enjoy, consider seeing a medical professional. They could recommend relaxation/meditation techniques, therapy, or potentially medications depending on the severity of your symptoms. This is especially important if you turn to substances or alcohol to cope or even have thoughts of suicide.

Educational offerings from PSA Worldwide

If you or someone you know are unsure about the next steps to take or are looking for more ways to address certain behaviors related to depression, substance misuse, or suicide consider the educational resources PSA has the offer.


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