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Have You Got the Winter Blues?

Mental Health • by Paul De Beyer • 06 May 2022

As the most famous TV show was a fan of reminding us: Winter is Coming. And boy, is it coming fast!

We’re reaching the point where we’ll be soon waking up in the dark, going to work in the dark, working all day, and then driving home in the dark. All the while feeling the extreme cold.

While some people thrive in winter, others struggle with the winter blues.

What exactly are the winter blues?

This colloquial term describes something called seasonal affective disorder, or, most appropriately of all, SAD. SAD is a type of depression that’s directly related to the changing of the seasons, specifically during the shift from summer to winter.

The current thinking is that SAD sufferers are directly affected by the shorter daylight hours, as this can cause a higher production of melatonin in the body. Melatonin is our natural sleep hormone and is regulated by the exposure to light.

While the more common occurrence of SAD happens this way, bear in mind that it can happen the other way around as well, starting as spring begins. 

What are the symptoms of SAD?

Many of the symptoms associated with SAD are similar to those of general depression which include:

Most sufferers of SAD also tend to indulge in higher-than-normal sleep, while also craving carbohydrate-rich foods.

Conversely, SAD sufferers who struggle during the summer months can experience a loss of appetite, weight loss and a lack of sleep.

How can you kick the blues?

Getting diagnosed for SAD isn’t simplie, as it’s not necessarily a separate mood disorder but rather a sign of a deeper issue such as depression or bi-polar disorder. If you’ve felt yourself experiencing extreme winter blues for the last couple of years, then you should reach out to a doctor or clinic for help.

All GetSavvi Health members have access to our licensed and accredited wellness hotline for private and confidential counselling. Our Member Wellness Programme can be the first step to helping you understand if you’re struggling with seasonal depression.

Treatment for SAD generally involves therapy, medication and lifestyle changes that you can implement at home with the help of your doctor.

A few things you should try to work into your daily routine are:

  1. Spend as much time outside or in direct sunlight as possible.
  2. Maintain a well-balanced, healthy diet.
  3. Socialise and spend time with friends and family.
  4. Exercise and get moving for at least 30 minutes a day.
  5. Avoid alcohol and drugs.

Whether you’re suffering from the winter blues or not, if you ever need someone to talk to, there are options such as family, health providers, government facilities and/or a friend that you can reach out to. 

References:
Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Do you have the winter blues?
Beat the Winter Blues

 

 

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