Annie Lindgren | North Forty News
It is that time of the year again… Long winter months filled with darkness after 5 pm, coldness making outside feel unwelcoming, and life droning on in a ‘same old same old’ pattern—time to knuckle down and get through another winter in Colorado.
The National Institute of Mental Health describes, “People may start to feel ‘down’ when the days get shorter in the fall and winter (also called “winter blues”) and begin to feel better in the spring, with longer daylight hours.” They share that the mood changes are more severe in some cases, and a person may have a seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression.
Symptoms of SAD include:
- Feeling Depressed most of the day
- Losing interest in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Sleep problems
- Feeling agitated or sluggish
- Low Energy
- Feeling worthless or hopeless
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequent thoughts of suicide or death
- Oversleeping, overeating, weight gain, or social withdrawal
Talk with a health care provider or mental health specialist if any of the above negatively impacts your quality of life. There can be other causes for symptoms and prescription treatment. SAD tends to occur in women more than men, tends to begin early in adulthood, and more commonly occurs in folks who live farther north, where daylight hours are shorter in the winter. Also, people with SAD tend to have other mental disorders, such as ADHD or anxiety, and it tends to run in families.
Here are some tips for what can help:
- Take Vitamin D or get a daily dose of sunshine
- Exercise as often to ‘daily’ as possible
- Keep those social plans
- Remind yourself the feelings are temporary
- Try out some new hobbies or activities
- Maintain a healthy sleep schedule
- Be mindful of coping skills that may negatively contribute to the problem, such as consuming in excess
- Reach out for professional help if the above doesn’t help
This author dreads the winter months due to seasonal depression, but the above tips help get her through. Of course, everyone’s needs, bodies, and experiences are different. The point shared here is that if you feel down during winter, you are not alone, and you can do things that will help. Life is too short to feel stuck in ‘miserable.’
If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You also can text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.
Published in North Forty News’s ‘On Edge’, December 4, 2011