It’s January. The holidays are over and if you’re living in the northern section of the world it’s cold, gray, and pretty darn gloomy. Can this make you sad? You bet it can. Literally, S.A.D.
Seasonal affective disorder (also called SAD) is a type of depression that strikes during the winter months, but it can begin in early fall, too, because you know what’s coming.
According to WebMD, symptoms include:
• Feeling sad, grumpy, moody, or anxious
• Losing interest in your usual activities
• Gaining weight
• Sleeping more and feeling drowsy during the daytime
• Having difficulty concentrating
• In severe cases, thoughts of suicide
People often think it’s just normal to feel down and blue in the winter, but if you’ve been depressed for weeks and months, the chemicals in your body are trying to tell you something.
Circadian rhythm, also called your biological clock, can be disrupted when the days become shorter and you’re not getting as much light.
Serotonin levels, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, may drop due to lack of sunlight and cause depression.
Levels of melatonin, a natural hormone which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood, can become imbalanced and trigger insomnia.
So, how can you get through the winter if you suffer from SAD?
Try these methods first:
Let the sunshine in ... or, at least, the daylight. Open your blinds or drapes, sit close to the window at home or work.
No windows in your office?
Expose yourself. Taking a walk in the morning or at lunch time can do a world of good for combating the gloom. Even on cold and cloudy days, outdoor light can help boost your vitamin D levels, which if too low can cause depression.
No time to get outside?
Work it out with a workout. As usual, exercise can help relieve stress, anxiety, and mood swings. Join a gym or buy some exercise DVDs. Get those chemicals and hormones moving up and into the brain.
Don’t feel like it?
Eat your fish. Salmon, mackerel and herring are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and can boost your mood as well as your overall health.