Seasonal depression, winter depression, seasonal affective disorder, the winter blues .. this kind of depression goes by many names, but it doesn’t have to be a part of your holiday season this year. With that said, I am not a doctor nor psychologist. I am only speaking from my personal experience and am not presenting this as medical advice. Please see my full disclaimer at the bottom of this post.
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Seasonal depression, more formally known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a form of depression that is triggered by the change in the seasons (most commonly occurring in winter). Statistically, only about 5% of the US population experiences it, but of that 5%, 80% are women.
The cause of this type of depression has been linked to the reduced level of natural sunlight in the winter because it can affect serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a hormone that affects mood. Additionally, melotonin in the brain is produced at higher levels in the dark. Melotonin affects sleep. So, when there is more present, it can affect your circadian rhythm and sleep.
The symptoms of seasonal depression can include fatigue, mood swings, hopelessness, body aches, difficulty concentrating, lethargy, increased appetite, carbohydrate cravings, irritability, and loss of libido. Personally, I experience almost all of the above every winter. It’s gotten really bad in the past and turned me into a full GRINCH around the holidays. It’s no fun at all and it’s a real bummer for the people around me, so this year I decided to be proactive and try to keep the seasonal depression at bay. We are currently half way through December and I can honestly say, I don’t feel seasonally depressed! Even with the weeks of rain and chilly temps, I have maintained a fairly positive and joyful mindset. Here are the top ten tips that helped me:
Invest in a light box.
I purchased this one, as it was the least expensive one that still had good reviews. I use this light in the morning as I get ready for work, and I can’t explain it, but I feel pretty joyful after using it. It’s honestly bizarre because I am NEVER joyful before 8 am.
I lose soo much motivation in this department in the winter. But, exercise helps so much! I have personally been using the SWEAT app and I love it!
3. Eat well.
As I mentioned earlier, seasonal depression can have you craving carbs. Try reaching for whole grains or protein sources like avocado or hummus. I personally crave sweets a lot more when I am experiencing depression, so I like to keep these KIND minis handy. They have a lot less sugar than most of the sweet snacks I could get my hands on.
4. Get outside as much as possible.
Soak up as much of the sun as you can, even when it’s freakin’ cold. I take short walks during the day and play with my fur child outside when I get home in the evenings, right before the sun sets.
5. Vitamin D.
I started taking this supplement to help with my psoriasis, but it can also help with seasonal depression. I take this kind and have experienced great results in terms of my psoriasis and winter blues.
6. Treat yo self.
Sometimes a little self-pampering can go a long way. Whether it’s a massage, pedicure, or new boots that make you feel great, treat yourself (just keep your budget in mind, debt in the name of self care is still debt).
7. Stay social.
We all have those holiday gatherings we are obligated to attend, but don’t forget to schedule some social activity that you can really look forward to. The holidays can be a great time to catch up with friends.
I have talked about the benefits of journaling on several occasions, but it is especially helpful when you are feeling depressed. I love these small grid journals for seasonal journaling.
9. Sleep well.
Staying on a consistent sleep cycle and getting enough sleep can be a mental game changer. It is especially important when you are experiencing seasonal depression, as it can help combat feelings of lethargy.
10. Talk to someone.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be really effective for seasonal depression, or any other kind of depression for that matter. Having a neutral third party sounding board is an incredible tool for mental health. I personally was in therapy for two years and it was the most life-changing, incredible experience.
All information and resources found on ThePowellandCoBlog.com are based on the opinions of the author unless otherwise noted. All information is intended to motivate readers to make their own health decisions after consulting with their health care provider. I am not a doctor, lawyer, psychiatrist, or therapist.
The author of this site encourages you to consult a doctor before making any health changes, especially any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition. No information on this site should be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.