It’s winter here in Saskatchewan. It’s cold and dry, the ground is covered in snow, the days are short, and the sun barely makes an appearance. I always get the winter blues.
The winter blues are real. The technical term is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression that changes with the seasons. Most people experience SAD starting in the fall and continuing through winter. Occasionally, it will linger through spring and early summer. SAD is a subtype of major depression when the seasons change this subtype goes into remission.
Many people who have been diagnosed with major depression will also experience seasonal affective disorder. It’s like getting a double dose of depression during the winter months. Depression upon depression. For those people, it is very important to maintain and be proactive in their recovery during the changing seasons.
Symptoms of SAD:
- feeling depressed most of the day, every day
- little to no interest in activities
- low energy
- sleep problems
- changes in appetite and weight
- feeling restless or listless
- difficulty concentrating
- feeling hopeless
- thoughts of death or suicide
Causes of SAD:
Doctors have not pinpointed the actual cause(s) of Seasonal Affective Disorder, however, they believe the following causes play a part in SAD.
- Body Clock (Circadian Rhythm) – The lack of sunlight in the fall and winter months can wreak havoc on your internal body clock which may cause SAD.
- Serotonin Levels (the happy chemical) – With the lack of natural light our serotonin levels can drop. Serotonin plays a key role in our mood, digestion, and regulating our internal body clock.
- Melatonin levels (sleep chemical) – Your body makes melatonin at night when the sun sets and it decreases in the morning with the sun coming up. The changing seasons can disturb your bodies melatonin production causing problems with your internal body clock.
Treatments for SAD:
- Medication – SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) are the most common because it increases the levels of serotonin in the brain by blocking reabsorption so the serotonin (happy chemical) remains active.
- Therapy – seeking out professional help during the winter months can help to give emotional support and can rewire the brain and thinking patterns. There are also group therapy sessions you could seek out. Group therapy helps to not feel so alone.
- Light therapy (phototherapy) – Many professionals suggest using a ‘happy light’ or lightbox to get enough natural light during the winter months. Using it in the morning helps to decrease your melatonin production and regulate your circadian rhythm (body clock).
- Self-care – be sure to take care of yourself during the winter months
The Top 5 Best Light Therapy Boxes:
Another highly rated and affordable lamp also made by Circadian Optics. This portable therapy light allows you to take it with you.
The Philips Wake-Up Light wakes your gently with light gradually increases within 30 minutes from soft morning red through orange until your room is filled with bright yellow light. By the gradually changing light, it allows you to wake up naturally. It also has a sound option that gradually increases with the light. There are 5 nature sound options. Includes an alarm clock, smart tap snooze, and includes sunset simulations to send you off to sleep.
Most light therapy boxes have a white light. This Philips Blue Energy light uses a blue light which is supposed to be more energizing. This Golite is portable and includes a rechargeable battery as well as a cord for outlet use.
This PureGuardian Light Therapy Lamp comes with both blue or white light. Its compact size makes it portable enough to take to the office. It has an adjustable tilt for easy use and includes a convenient USB to charge your phone. It also has a 5-30 minute timer.
Light therapy is an effective way to ease Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms. While it will not cure SAD, when used daily it can increase energy and make you feel better.
Do you feel you get the winter blues?
~ Lacey ~
The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.