Do the winter months bring you down? If you find yourself glum as the weather turns gloomy, then you might suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that affects 4 to 6 percent of Americans, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. In most cases, symptoms begin at the beginning of the fall and continue through the winter months. Symptoms include low energy levels, loss of appetite, feeling sluggish or hopeless, and having difficulty concentrating on regular tasks. Doctors aren’t sure why some people are affected by this, but it may relate to changes in the body’s circadian rhythm and low serotonin levels.
If you find yourself suffering from symptoms of seasonal affective disorder during the winter months, there are steps you can take to combat the feelings and lessen its intensity.
First, exercise. Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. Moderate exercise like walking or biking can release these endorphins and boost your mood.
Second, get outside. Even if it’s cold, windy or cloudy, any bit of vitamin D from natural sunlight will boost your energy levels. If it’s dark when you leave for work and come home, try to go on a small walk during lunch.
Third, take a vacation. Studies show that planning a trip makes you feel happy because it provides something to look forward to. And if it’s cold where you live, visiting somewhere warm and sunny will definitely help raise your spirits.
In some cases, medical help may be needed. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional if you can’t shake off the winter blues.