Are the wintertime blues getting you down? It might be because of something more serious than a lack of sunshine. According to CBN.com, five percent of Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a depression that people deal with during the same times every year and 20 percent deal with a mild case they don’t realize they have.
Symptoms of this medical condition are similar to hibernation. You may regularly feel moody, feel as though your energy is completely sucked out of you, lose interest in usual activities, eat more and crave carbohydrates. You are likely to have SAD if you experience these symptoms during the winter season and it subsides during the spring and summer months.
“I feel more unmotivated and less spunky [in comparison to the summer],” said Maddie Drury, Milford sophomore.” “I also sleep a lot more during the winter. Don’t get me wrong. I love the snow, but my mood definitely changes.”
According to webMD.com, SAD is more common in women, in people of ages 15-55 and in people who have a relative with SAD.
According to CBN.com, the reason for this is because melatonin, which makes us tired, is triggered by darkness and serotonin, which makes us feel happy, is triggered by sunlight, which we don’t get enough of during the winter months.
“During the winter, I feel a lot slower,” said Al Covington, Detroit sophomore. “I feel less motivated to go anywhere.”
How can we treat this?
A proven treatment for SAD is light therapy. Patients are asked to use a “light box” in their room during the morning to simulate sunlight. Light boxes can be bought on Amazon.com for as low at $28.75. Unfortunately for you fake-and-bakes, tanning beds are not considered part of this light therapy because they emit ultra-violet light rays and light boxes contain little or no UV light.
“Your natural clock is usually longer than 24 hours, and you need light in the morning to set it and keep it on track,” stated Dr. Alfred Lewy, professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University and an expert on seasonal depression and light therapy.
CBN.com also recommends sitting near a window more often, opening the blinds in your room and using higher wattage light bulbs.
For those experiencing SAD during the winter, it may be a wiser choice to get to the gym rather than taking a nap.
“A cardiovascular workout pumps oxygen into the brain, making us alert and energetic,” stated Lorie Johnson, CBN medical reporter. “Exercise also releases endorphins, neurotransmitters that create a feeling of euphoria.”
Drury said to deal with feeling down in the winter a hard work out does the trick.
“I feel more awake after I work out,” Drury said. “I’m more energized and just generally happier. I also sleep better that night.”
Drury also said that staying organized and productive keeps her mind focused on the right things, instead of falling victim to the laziness of the cold season.
Don’t sit around this winter and wonder what in the world has got you down. Get out and do something that will make you stronger, healthier and happier.
“Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the ‘winter blues’ or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own,” stated the Mayo Clinic. “Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.”