5 things to know about seasonal blues

5 things to know about seasonal blues

Treatments exist if you’re feeling blue in the winter time due to a lack of light.

Feeling blue is something many people experience from time to time. Some people suffer from low feelings more in winter when the temperature dips and the sun can hide behind the clouds for days, if not weeks, at a time. But what causes it? Here are five things to know about seasonal blues.

Exposure to sunlight plays a key role

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is the official medical term for the kind of depression that strikes in fall and winter. People who suffer from SAD often feel like their energy is sapped and their mood dips as soon as fall weather settles in. Once the weather warms up in spring and summer, their symptoms of lethargy and depression subside. SAD can cause you to feel:

  • Sad every day
  • Restless
  • Sluggish
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Unable to sleep well
  • Hopeless
  • Worthless
  • Suicidal
  • Craving carbohydrates

People who suffer from bi-polar disorder are more likely to experience and suffer from seasonal affective disorder. In general, the changing seasons may cause people who are bipolar to feel depressed in fall and winter and manic, anxious, and agitated in summer.

SAD is more likely to affect women and those living in colder climates.

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Getting enough vitamin D is also important

Vitamin D plays a key role in your health and getting enough is important. If you live where winter brings colder weather, the sun ceases to provide you with enough vitamin D come winter time. Getting vitamin D throughout the winter through your diet by eating foods supplemented with it such as milk or some types of orange juice, oily fish such as salmon or mackerel, or a vitamin supplement. Research shows getting enough vitamin can help alleviate SAD symptoms in some people.
Craving carbs is a symptom

Interestingly, craving carbs in winter is a distinct symptom of SAD. Comfort foods like cakes and cookies can easily lead to weight gain, especially over the holidays.

If you find you have a strong craving for carbs once the heat of the sun wanes, talk to your doctor.

Light therapy can help

Several types of therapy exist to help alleviate SAD. Some patients might receive psychotherapy as a solution that may talk you out of your depression. This type of therapy can help you get back to activities you love, better manage stress, and identify thought patterns that bring you down. Psychotherapy can also remind you to get active and focus on obtaining a good night’s sleep.

Light therapy is another solution that many people find helpful. Light therapy imitates the sun and can change your mood by stimulating brain chemicals that make you feel happier. Your therapy will expose you to bright light via a light box each day within an hour after waking up.

If neither of these two approaches garner any results, your doctor might suggest medication.

Treatments can potentially trigger a manic episode

Getting the right treatment for SAD can help you gain back your happiness and zest for life. If you suffer from bipolar disorder, it’s important to inform your healthcare provider when seeking treatment for SAD. Light therapy and antidepressants can both trigger a manic episode, so it’s important to approach things with balance.
SAD is something that can be mild in some patients and quite strong in others. Always seek help for depression.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 in the US.

photo credits: Maridav/Shutterstock.com

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