A short spell with the winter blues may be nothing to worry about, but feeling sad and falling into a depression as winter approaches every year likely signals something more is going on. It could be seasonal affective disorder SAD, which keeps many people feeling down in the cold, dark parts of the year.
True SAD symptoms show up as summer cools into autumn and get worse as winter settles in. It strikes women more commonly than men, and people living north of the 37th parallel– around the latitude of San Francisco– suffer more often from its effects. Symptoms closely resemble signs of depression, including low energy, little desire to spend time with others, consuming too many carbohydrates and gaining weight,
sleeping too much or feeling sick like a mild case of flu.
Here are Some Tips to Help you Avoid the Winter Blues:
Start Breathing Better Air
While light therapy has been the gold standard in treating seasonal depression for decades, some people also need to be medicated, pointing experts to look at other factors, including the quality of the air people breathe.
Allergens, dirt and other contaminants in the air worsen indoors when windows and doors remain closed in the winter.
Here are some ways to take advantage of better air to ease SAD symptoms:
• Buy an air purifier to improve your home’s indoor air filtration. This purchase can help you breathe more easily and stay healthier. Compare air purifiers to decide which features best fit your situation and will clean your home air the best. Check air purifier consumer ratings before making a decision.
• Venture outside a few minutes each day. People who rarely go outside during the winter spend almost all their time breathing indoor, dirty air, which can further trigger symptoms of SAD.
Expose Your Skin to Better Light
Human bodies need full-spectrum light to function at their best, researchers have found, because it keeps us on a natural rhythm of 24 hours. If the light cycle becomes disturbed, such as during the short daylight hours of winter, SAD can set in.
Here are some ways to treat the disorder with light. Use a specially designed fluorescent light with 10,000 lux for a half hour each day or one at half that power for an hour. Familiarize yourself with the rules for using the light before doing the therapy. Make sure to get some sunlight regularly during the winter.
Form Better Health Habits
As with any health concern, getting the right nutrition and exercise makes a major difference, even with seasonal depression. Avoid the winter blues by making sure your diet includes enough vitamin D, which is lacking when sunlight is low. Get outside and exercise to break yourself out of the fatigue, low energy and foul moods that SAD can bring.
A good combination of breathing pure air, getting into the light and taking care of your diet and exercise regime can make every winter brighter and healthier. Seasonal depression does not have to ruin the season, when making these changes can make all the difference.
Make sure you consult a doctor if you have any concerns!
Guest post by Mary Thomsen who has more than 20 years experience as a community newspaper reporter, editor and owner and does freelance writing on almost any topic. She especially enjoys writing about interesting people and things that can make their lives and health better.