If you’re like me, once the cold weather and darker days start, Netflix and hot chocolate became my two new besties. Between the lack of sunshine and the bone chilling cold, this time of year has most of us feeling blah and keeping to ourselves. Like bears in hibernation, this means less energy and unfortunately, more weight. Ugh.
But did you know it could be more than just the winter blues?
According to Mayo Clinic, it’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) and it affects more than 3 million people nationwide. The symptoms mimic those of depression and occur at the same time every year – usually fall or winter. You may experience moodiness, fatigue, social withdrawal and cravings for carbohydrates.
Is this why I’m crabby and want all of the cookies?!
Seriously, though. It makes sense. Sunlight nourishes us with Vitamin D, an essential nutrient for our bodies that also helps regulate serotonin (the “feel good” neurotransmitter). Without those golden rays, our hormones and brain chemicals go a little haywire which can lead to decreased serotonin and increased melatonin (regulates sleep). This causes depressed mood, irritability, hypersomnia (sleeping too much), increased appetite, low energy, difficulty concentrating, feelings of hopelessness and fatigue.
The National Institute of Mental Health found that Seasonal Affective Disorder is FOUR times more likely to affect women than men. Other risk factors include family history, diagnosis of depression or other mental health condition and living far from the equator.
Hey doc – can I get prescription for a vaca? Pretty sure it might be medically necessary.
The good news is that seasonal depression usually resolves on its own in a few weeks when our beloved Sun starts hanging around a bit more. In the meantime, diet, exercise and the use of full spectrum lights (also known as phototherapy) can help boost those Vitamin D levels and bring back that spring in your step long before the season change. There are also supplements, essential oils and flower essences that can help but please consult a doctor first – I am not a doctor. I repeat —
I AM NOT A DOCTOR.
Just a girl that doesn’t like the cold weather – or socializing – or socializing in the cold weather.
If your symptoms are mild, no biggie. But sometimes, they can be severe and interfere with daily activities. In that case, please talk to your doctor. Again, that’s not me.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to put on my shades, listen to the ocean waves (thank you, sound machine) and imagine I’m soaking up sun in Jamaica.
Oh. And the fruity cocktail.
Jenn Lyn, MSW, LCSW
SHE Magazine USA
Correspondent Licensed Clinical Social Worker Certified Crystal Healer