How to Identify and Overcome Seasonal Mood Depression or The Winter Blues
Seasonal mood depression
For nearly thirty years scientists and researchers in the medical field have been aware of a specific kind of depression that has its onset when winter arrives (1). This so called seasonal mood depression occurs especially in people who live in the northern climates, and the lessened amount of daylight (2) is thought to be a leading cause.
Many people could be suffering from this disorder when natural help is at hand. Here is a list of signs that you could be suffering from this form of depression :
- Feelings of depression or unhappiness. There could also be pessimistic feelings and feelings of hopelessness
- You start feeling down in the fall and it steadily worsens as winter advances. That is why this condition is also called seasonal affective disorder, SAD, or seasonal depression. Symptoms tend to clear up in the sunnier days of spring and summer
- You have a lack of energy or just can’t seem to get going
- A marked withdrawal from social interactions
- A heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms and legs
- Lapses in concentration or having problems finishing tasks
- Wanting or needing more sleep and also difficulty waking up in the morning
- Weight gain which is accompanied by a craving for carbohydrates
In many animal species behavior changes (3) during the winter months, marked by decreased activity. At the end of the spectrum are hibernating animals. Do these last two symptoms: weight gain and sleep pattern changes not sound like an animal undergoing changes caused by the seasons?
Interestingly, though less often, there is also a “reverse” seasonal affective disorder that has its onset in summer. This has symptoms opposite to some of those listed above: insomnia, decreased appetite, weight loss, irritability and anxiety.
How to beat seasonal mood depression
While traditional pharmacotherapy is the first line choice of treatment of many physicians, a multidisciplinary approach often has the best results for patients.
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