Are you worried about the winter blues?

Are you worried about the winter blues?

It happens every year. The number of daylight hours starts to drop, the weather starts to get colder, and we crave hot beverages.

Some call this the winter blues, but what if there is a more serious condition lurking underneath?

“Clinical Seasonal Affective (SAD) disorder is more than just the ‘winter blues,'” says Dr. Munther Barakat, Director of Behavioral Health Therapy at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital. “It’s actually a type of depression that lasts for a season and can subside during non-winter months. Symptoms are the same as depression and can vary in severity.”

SAD seems to be more prevalent during the winter months for good reason. During the winter, you experience less sunlight. The lack of sunlight lowers your levels of serotonin, resulting in changes to your mood.

In addition, SAD is more common in women than men. It’s not fully known why, but researchers suspect it’s hormonal.

“Fluctuating estrogens affects serotonin, and serotonin is connected to our emotions,” Dr. Barakat says.

Unfortunately, people who already suffer from depression can also experience increased symptoms during this time.

Also, considering the increased rates of depression related to the current pandemic, it is likely that there will be an increased number of people struggling with these symptoms this winter.

It’s not all bad news, though. There are ways to address SAD. Dr. Barakat recommends the following:

  • Eat healthy
  • Spend time with friends and family, even virtually if you can
  • Stay active

And of course, if you feel like your symptoms are getting worse, you should talk to a doctor.

If you notice symptoms getting worse, where every day functioning seems too hard, you may need to get help from a behavioral health professional.

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About the Author

Colin Schaller
Colin Schaller

Colin graduated from Marquette University with a degree in communications and has more than 10 years of experience in small marketing firms to Fortune 500 companies. Colin is married to his wonderful wife, Brooke, and they have two children. Outside of work, Colin enjoys golf, going to the gym, watching movies (he is a Star Wars nerd), tinkering with his home theater and spending time with family and friends.