Winter is upon us, which means shorter daylight hours are here as well. The changing seasons can bring changes in our mood as well. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of SAD may include:
· Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
· Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
· Having low energy
· Having problems with sleeping
· Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
· Feeling sluggish or agitated
· Having difficulty concentrating
· Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
· Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:
· Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
· Weight gain
· Tiredness or low energy
Your symptoms usually will get better on their own when a new season arrives, often in the spring or summer. However, treatments can make you feel better sooner, and some can help keep your condition from coming back.
· Light therapy is one of the first lines of treatments for fall-onset SAD. It generally starts working in a few days to a few weeks and causes few side effects. Research on light therapy is limited, but it appears to be effective for most people in relieving SAD symptoms.
· Open blinds, trim tree branches that block sunlight or add skylights to your home. Sit closer to bright windows while at home or in the office.
· Take a long walk, eat lunch at a nearby park, or simply sit on a bench and soak up the sun. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help — especially if you spend some time outside within two hours of getting up in the morning.
· Exercise and other types of physical activity help relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase SAD symptoms. Being more fit can make you feel better about yourself too, which can lift your mood.
Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.
Kailey Kocourek, Project Coordinator for The Kim Foundation, https://www.thekimfoundation.org/
Kailey Kocourek joined The Kim Foundation in July 2018 as the Project Coordinator. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from UNO in Public Health and is currently working towards her Master’s in Public Health from UNMC, expecting to graduate in May 2019. She was drawn to the non-profit world because of her passion for helping and educating others. In her spare time, she enjoys baking and spending time with her husband, Ethan, and two children, Kaiden and Emry.