|Beating the Winter Blues
By: Dr. Jen Leggour
The winter blues can be a part of a long and cold winter. This involves low levels of feeling sad or down, a lack of motivation, low energy, and the desire to "hibernate" for the season. There is a difference between the winter blues and the more clinical Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The winter blues are fleeting and never reach more than mild levels of melancholy. SAD is a clinical disorder that can lead to serious depression that interferes with many areas of functioning. The winter blues is less serious and considerably more common.
The good news is that there are a number of things that you can do to feel better during the winter months. Going outside in the sunlight for 20 minutes per day (without sunglasses) can help give you melatonin and vitamins C and D, which are all helpful for sleep and counteracting feelings of fatigue. Exercising regularly helps to improve energy, mood, and general health. Socializing regularly helps to connect with others, elevate mood, and access support systems. A healthy diet can give you the vitamins and nutrients that you need for energy and feeling good as well. Finally, embrace what the winter has to offer, such as going on a ski trip or taking your family sledding. In this area, while there is limited snow, you can enjoy the fact that the winter offers activities without crowds.
If you believe that you are suffering from more than just the winter blues and have SAD, contact your primary care doctor or feel free to call Worcester Youth and Family Counseling. An assessment can be made as to the severity and pattern of your symptoms to determine if you are simply down versus experiencing a more clinical problem.