I decided to take a bit of a break from writing due to some personal reasons. The calendar says it is Spring, but Mother Nature still has me feeling like it is winter and I have been having a bit of trouble battling the "winter blues". I thought it best to wait until I was a little more chipper, and a little less stressed, before getting back to writing regularly.
So, what are the winter blues? The "winter blues", also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is defined by the National Library of Medicine as:
"... a kind of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter."
It is typical for it to happen in the winter, which is the reason it is called "winter blues" instead of "seasonal blues", I guess. But there are cases of people becoming depressed during the summer months as well. This happens routinely at the same time each year, usually starting around the Fall months.
Symptoms according to the Mayo Clinic:
Fall and winter seasonal affective disorder (winter depression)
- Loss of energy
- Heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
Spring and summer seasonal affective disorder (summer depression)
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Weight loss
- Poor appetite
- Increased sex drive
Causes:The Mayo Clinic states that the exact cause is still not known, but here are some likely causes:
- Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may disrupt your body's internal clock, which lets you know when you should sleep or be awake. This disruption of your circadian rhythm may lead to feelings of depression.
- Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in seasonal affective disorder. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
- Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the natural hormone melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
Light Therapy - you sit a few feet from a specialized light therapy box so that you're exposed to bright light. Light therapy mimics outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood.
Psychotherapy & Medications - These are used after light therapy has been attempted unsuccessfully.
There are other things that you can do on your own to reduce the likelihood of suffering from SAD. This includes opening up the curtains/blinds to let in as much sunlight as possible during the day. Also, sitting near a window while you work, read, draw, etc. can help. Getting outside and getting regular exercise are also great ways to help and make sure to get enough sleep each night.
If you are into supplements, they recommend St. John's Wort, SAMe, Melatonin, and Omega-3 fatty acids. And other therapy includes yoga, meditation, and acupuncture.
Always, before trying any kind of treatment, talk to your doctor about your symptoms to see what they suggest. Also, seek help if you are having suicidal thoughts or turn to alcohol or other substances for relief.
The Mayo Clinic is a great resource for causes, treatments, and symptoms: Click Here to read the original page.