Dealing With the Winter Blues
by Helen Selenati
It is common for
people in the northern hemisphere to feel
depressed in the months following the holidays
when the short winter days are
still dark and the
weather tends to be cloudy. This depression
which commonly shows up during the winter
months is also known as Seasonal Affective
Disorder or SAD for short. It is more
prevalent at higher latitudes and younger
people and women in particular are at greater risk of
developing the symptoms.
Symptoms that are
often related to SAD are:
- Prolonged duration of
depression lasting about five months on
- Oversleeping and
feeling fatigued and lethargic most of the
- Overeating, craving
carbohydrates and gaining weight
The etiology or cause
of the winter blues or SAD is not only due to
the lack of sunlight but can also be
attributed to working and living in dark
indoor environments. Research has shown that
SAD could be the result of shifted circadian
rhythms. When your internal 'body clock'
shifts, the wrong hormones are produced at the
wrong time of day, causing the symptoms of
recommendations for alleviating the winter
- Try to get out into
daylight as often as possible. If the weather
permits, go outdoors at lunchtime when the
natural light is at its brightest. Once in a
while on a sunny day, leave work while it is
still light outside (the work will still be
there the next day).
- Plan fun activities
outdoors on the weekend or simply take a walk
during the middle of the day.
- Read books and enjoy
music and movies with an uplifting theme.
- Exercise regularly at
least 3 times a week and pay special attention
to your posture. Sitting and standing
upright and breathing deeply can make a big
difference to your general attitude and
feeling of well-being.
- Seek the company of
upbeat friends and family members who have a
positive outlook on life - they can have a big
influence on the quality of your mood.
- Place live flowers
with vibrant colors in your living and work
- Open the blinds and
allow as much daylight into the rooms where you work, play
- Wear fun colored
clothing that cheers you up.
- Take advantage of the
short days by noticing the beautiful light and
colors in the sky at dawn and dusk. Look
for rainbows after a rain shower.
- Light therapy lasting
from 15 to 30 minutes per day could also be
considered as a treatment approach.
These lights should have an ultra-violet
block to prevent potential danger to the skin
and the eyes. Numerous sources for these
therapy lights can be found on the internet
(search under “Light therapy”).
response to these strategies should be evident
within a week or two. People notice that they
awaken earlier and easier in the mornings and
feel more refreshed and energetic during the
day. They sleep better throughout the night, and
don't feel exhausted or fatigued any more. The
cravings for carbohydrates diminish and there is
less of a tendency to overeat. These
recommendations can help in uplifting your mood
and general feeling of well-being.
“Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”
-- Victor Hugo
Helen Selenati is a
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and
Certified Coach. She has a private
practice in Redwood City and can be
firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 650-596-0807.
Also visit www.selenati.com