Protect your mental health in every season
A shift indoors can lead to isolation
As the weather gets colder, many of us spend less time outdoors and stop participating in social activities we enjoyed in the warmer months, like picnicking, biking, boating, and swimming. As we spend more time indoors, we may begin to feel “cooped up” and isolated from others – a real downer.
SAD – it’s a real thing
If your change in mood is severe and lasts more than 2 weeks, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). More than feeling sluggish or sad for a few days, SAD is a form of major depression that happens every year at the same time – usually in fall and winter. While scientists don’t know the exact cause of SAD, it is thought the decreased sunlight of fall and winter affects chemicals in the brain, including serotonin and melatonin, leading to changes in mood.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 5 percent of U.S. adults experience SAD. Common symptoms include fatigue, feeling sad, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, a change in appetite or weight gain, difficulty concentrating and a change in sleep, usually sleeping too much.
How to fight SAD
SAD has been successfully treated using light therapy – spending scheduled time in front of a light therapy box that emits broad spectrum ultraviolet light that mimics outdoor light. Medication and counseling are also effective. But don’t try to diagnose yourself or others. Contact us if you are concerned about feelings of depression. Our A Woman’s View team will talk to you about your needs and schedule an appointment with a professional from The Counseling Group or Kintegra Health, right in our office.
Coping with the Winter Blues
If you notice slight changes in your mood or energy level this winter – if you feel less energetic or cheerful, but you are still able to care for yourself and handle your schoolwork or job – you may be experiencing a lesser form of SAD known as the winter blues.
- Brighten your surroundings – open blinds and curtains, use brighter light bulbs and lamps.
- Get outside, especially on sunny days – even if it’s only a walk around the block, the exposure to natural light can lift your spirits.
- Get moving – regular exercise such as walking or hiking can affect mood and mental health. If it’s too cold outside, find indoor recreation like racquetball, Zumba, rock climbing, jumping rope, or swimming indoor laps.
Remember, there is no off season when it comes to your physical and mental health. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep are health goals that will serve you year-round.