Winter Blues Vs Seasonal Affective Disorder
According to Georgia Gaveras, DO, chief psychiatrist and co-founder of Talkiatry, the main difference between the winter blues and SAD has to do with severity and function. Its just like sadness vs. depression.
Sadness during the fall and winter months
Some trouble sleeping
Severe sadness during the fall and winter months
Frequent sleep and eating issues
Depression that limits normal functioning and motivation
People feel sad sometimes, and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, having emotions is part of what makes us all human and not something that we want to extinguish, says Gaveras.
Feeling sad or down sometimes, especially during the winter months, could be a sign of the winter blues. However, when sadness interferes with your ability to function in your daily life, it could be something more serious.
For many people, Gaveras says, the fall and winter months precipitate some gloom and sadness, and a lot of that is related to the lack of sunlight.
During the winter months, people leave their home in the dark, spend all day in an office with no windows, and then leave work to commute home again, in the dark. That can affect most peoples dispositions, she says.
If you’re working from home, and not getting outdoors before work or during your lunch hour, you may not be leaving your home at all now that it turns dark earlier.
If the symptoms get this severe, its crucial to seek professional mental health services immediately.
What Is Seasonal Depression
Those people who struggle with the changing of the seasons might be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder , also known as seasonal depression. According to Mental Health America,
The prevalence of seasonal depression is anywhere from 0-10 percent of the population, depending on the geographic region.
Fundamental Elements of Seasonal Depression Include:
What Is Sad How Do I Know I Have It And What Can I Do About It
When the weather gets colder when we see the sun less when the holidays come and go and leave us feeling empty when it becomes harder and harder to get outside for that workout or bike ride No matter how active, optimistic or generally upbeat you are, there are times of the year when we all get a little bummed out. Maybe for you, that time of the year isnt the winter at all. Maybe every May you get down because thats when your mother passed away and it is a reminde she isnt there anymore. Maybe you live in an area that is so hot, it makes it impossible to get outside when the sun is up during the summer. The lack of vitamin D really weighs on you that time of year.
So what is that feeling? Is it normal? Well, if normal means lots of other women experience the same thing, then YES!
Seasonal depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder , is a mood disorderjust like any other type of depression. However, this depression occurs annually during a certain time. It could be triggered by daylight savings time ending, a holiday, colder or wetter weather, by loss, or really anything.
Debra Stanfield is a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of California. She specializes in working with the rehabilitation population and has had a generous amount of experience with all types of depression. According to Debra, SAD episodes occur more frequently in women and it is common for them to occur around the holidays.
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Light Boxes And Dawn Simulators
A light box is a specially designed device that spits out light similar to daylight for sessions of 30 minutes at a time. Its not the silver bullet that Bed Bath & Beyond would have you believe, but it is effective. Numerous studies have confirmed that sitting next to these things as early as possible each day can have a positive impact on SAD. As Harvard Health points out: about 100 times brighter than usual indoor lighting a bright sunny day is 50,000 lux or more. On gray days, sitting with your morning coffee in front of a light box might be your best shot at getting the light you need. That said, some caveats: only buy one after consulting with your doctor, buy whatever your doctor recommends , dont ever look directly at the light, and if you forget to use it, dont compensate by firing it up in the afternoon. That could ruin your sleep. If a light box sounds like too much hassle, look into getting a dawn simulator, which is basically an elegant sunrise alarm clock. Were fans of the Restore by Hatch.
How To Tell Winter Blues From Seasonal Affective Disorder
Some people experience an extreme type of winter blues known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.
The American Psychiatric Association classifies seasonal affective disorder as a subtype of major depression and its symptoms are similar to those of general depression.
How do you know that youve crossed the line between winter blues and seasonal affective disorder?
Besides feeling blue during the winter, other symptoms of SAD include:
- increased anxiety
- carbohydrate cravings and subsequent weight gain
- lack of motivation
- increased use of addictive substances
- reduced libido
- strained relationships
- lowered immunity
To meet the medical criteria for SAD, you must experience these symptoms seasonally for two years.
And, of course, if your symptoms persist beyond winter, your blues would no longer be considered a seasonal condition and you may have another form of depression.
It may then be time to consult with a health care professional.
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Inspirational Quotes To Beat Seasonal Depression
Finally, cooler weather is coming! For those of you who have been sweating through your favorite shirts and feeling constantly dehydrated, this can seem like a blessing. However, for some people, its dreaded.
Six percent of Americans suffer from severe Seasonal Affective Disorder which causes depression in otherwise neurotypical people. Another 14 percent suffer from a lesser form of the same disorder, typically characterized by mood swings, rather than simply depression.
So, while you are enjoying your pumpkin spice latte and throwing on your hoodies, remember these people.
If you are affected by this disorder, realize you arent alone. Six percent and 14 percent are large percentages when you are talking about millions of people. There are simple things you can do to help yourself to get out of bed and face the grey skies.One thing that has helped me the most is taping inspirational quotes to my mirror and reading them aloud every morning. It helps prepare you for an uplifting day, despite the sun hiding. Here are some that I have collected over the years, I suggest you try it too!
1. Nothing is impossible, even the word itself say Im possible! Audrey Hepburn
2. With every new day comes new strength and new thoughts Eleanor Roosevelt
3. A gloomy guest fits not a wedding feast Friedrich Schiller
4. The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
10. Try to be a rainbow in someones cloud. Maya Angelou
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Try Bright Light Therapy
Fewer hours of sunlight in winter can cause some people to experience depressed moods.
2 Seasonal Depression Tips for Light Therapy
Exposure to this type of light causes chemical changes in your brain that may help alleviate symptoms of SAD.
Sads Effect On Your Mental Health
Seasonal depression can present itself differently depending on the person. In general, an individual who suffers from seasonal depression will exhibit general signs of depression. Some of the symptoms of depression include feelings of:
- Sleep issues, such as insomnia
- Social withdrawal
- Poor and unhealthy food choices
However, there are some specific symptoms that will present themselves when a person becomes depressed due to seasonal changes. Some of the symptoms that may show themselves in a person who is suffering from SAD might include:
Causes Of Seasonal Affective Disorder
While the exact causes of seasonal affective disorder are unclear, most theories attribute the disorder to the reduction of daylight hours in winter. The shorter days and reduced exposure to sunlight that occurs in winter are thought to affect the body by disrupting:
Circadian rhythms. Your bodys internal clock or sleep-wake cycle responds to changes between light and dark to regulate your sleep, mood, and appetite. The longer nights and shorter days of winter can disrupt your internal clockleaving you feeling groggy, disoriented, and sleepy at inconvenient times.
Production of melatonin. When its dark, your brain produces the hormone melatonin to help you sleep and then sunlight during the day triggers the brain to stop melatonin production so you feel awake and alert. During the short days and long nights of winter, however, your body may produce too much melatonin, leaving you feeling drowsy and low on energy.
Production of serotonin. The reduced sunlight of winter can lower your bodys production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood. A deficit may lead to depression and adversely affect your sleep, appetite, memory, and sexual desire.
Summer of SAD
As with any form of depression, there can be many different causes and contributing factors for seasonal affective disorder. Always consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and see the lifestyle changes outlined below for help to boost your mood and manage your depression symptoms.
How Sad Affects You
Dealing with anxiety in colder weather may be normal for some people, especially if you are stuck inside for days on end. Buf if you start to feel overwhelmed by anxiety-like symptoms, you may be experiencing the effects of SAD. A few symptoms to look out for include:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping more often
- Difficulty concentrating
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How To Beat Seasonal Depression
Its that time of year in Colorado where the winter starts to feel like its dragging on . For some people, thats a mild annoyance, but for others, it can spur real emotional and mental roadblocks that impede on normal life and zap you of your energy. If youre struggling to feel like yourself, here are some things to consider to beat seasonal depression.
Brighten Up Your Environment
If you work indoors, make a conscious effort to let in as much sunlight to your working environment as possible. Open any curtains or blinds and sit by a window if you can.
As well as making your environment bright, you could also try bringing the outside world in with some indoor plants to feel a bit closer to nature.
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The Best Supplements For Seasonal Depression
Are you feeling down for no particular reason? Do your symptoms start in the fall and get worse as the temperature drops? Then you might be dealing with seasonal depression. Also known as seasonal affective disorder , this condition can affect your mood and suck the joy out of life. It usually occurs at the same time each year, causing anxiety, mood swings, fatigue, low energy, and sadness. Carbohydrate cravings are common, too, notes the Cleveland Clinic.
Researchers say that SAD affects about 5% of Americans. More than two-thirds of those who experience this problem are women. People with anxiety, mood disorders, or eating disorders are more likely to develop SAD, explains the Cleveland Clinic. Scientists can’t tell what causes seasonal depression, but they believe it may be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Another possible cause is the lack of sunlight, which increases melatonin production and alters your body’s internal clock. An excess of melatonin, the sleep hormone, can result in tiredness and diminished mental focus.
On the positive side, there are steps you can take to restore your energy levels and feel like yourself again. Tyrosine, 5-HTP, St. John’s wort, and other supplements for seasonal depression can improve your mood and ward off the blues. Your diet matters, too.
Symptoms Of Winter Blues
As youd expect, winter blues peak in January and February in the northern hemisphere, July and August in the southern hemisphere.
The further you live from the equator, the greater your risk.
If you live in the northern US, Canada, or Europe, youre much more likely to experience winter blues than those living in warm and sunny Florida or Mexico.
But surprisingly, it can occur anywhere some people feel blue during the winter in southern California.
Besides feeling sad, here are some typical symptoms of winter blues:
- Your energy is low and you sleep more than usual.
- You feel apathetic, unmotivated, and bored.
- You are less interested in friends and activities you usually enjoy.
- You feel irritable, moody, and your relationships suffer.
- You overeat, gain weight, and especially have cravings for carbohydrates.
Beating The Winter Blues
It’s thought the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder , affects around 2 million people in the UK and more than 12 million people across northern Europe. It can affect people of any age, including children.
- feeling down and unsociable
According to Sue Pavlovich of the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association , these 10 tips could help. “Everyone’s affected differently by SAD, so what works for one person won’t for another,” she says. “But there’s usually something that will help, so don’t give up if the first remedy you try doesn’t work. Just keep trying.”
Go For Walks Outside While The Sun Is Out
Of course, actual sunlight is great for coping with seasonal depression, but walking can provide a mood boost, too with every step you take, you pump more oxygen to your brain and release serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating your mood.
“Going for a walk is a wonderful way to get exercise plus light,” Rosenthal says. “People are hesitant to go outside because it’s cold, but that shouldn’t deter you from getting some fresh air.”
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The 5 Best Ways To Beat Seasonal Depression Without Medication
Seasonal depression sucks, just as much as any form of depression or mental illness does. Winter and fall are my two favorite seasons, yet theyre the ones that I always get the most depressed in. Actually, my seasonal depression just started kicking in and it was so bad this time, that I didnt get out of bed for three whole days.
If you are someone who has depression or any other form of mental illness, you probably understand that you cant just be happier because it isnt all just in your head. My name is Alizabeth Swain and Im a beauty, fashion, and lifestyle blogger over at curvyhipsandtintedlips.com. While I use my social media reach to spread body positivity and beauty tips, Im also working on ending the stigma against mental health. You should check out my if youre in the need of some positive vibes! Mental illnesses arent fun and as someone who has five different mental illnesses, I also know that taking medication SUCKS. Thats why I wanted to share these five best ways to beat seasonal depression without taking medication. I hope they help you!
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2. Open up your windows
Letting sunshine into your life literally help transform your seasonal depression. Get outside as much as you possibly can throughout the day, keep your blinds open when youre inside, and be in bright environments as much as you possibly can!
3. Introduce more Vitamin D
Tips To Manage Symptoms Of Sad
You might just think that youre in a funk and can shake it off. But with SAD, it can go much deeper. Symptoms may include:
- Feelings of sadness or a serious mood shift when the seasons change.
- Lack of energy.
- Feeling irritated, hopeless or worthless.
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities, including loss of sexual interest.
- Difficulty with sleep, either by sleeping too much or experiencing insomnia.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
Symptoms of SAD tend to pop up later in the fall or early in the winter and they tend to subside during the warmer months.
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Ways To Fight Seasonal Depression
Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. These four beautiful seasons are each unique and bring their own sets of joys and challenges to humans and to the world around us. We each find things about the individual seasons that we love and do not love. Maybe its due to childhood memories, holidays, or even the temperature itself. One thing that comes with the seasons, is the changing of the seasons. For some people, this is a mystical and mesmerizing time as the flowers bloom, the leaves change, or the first snowflakes of the winter season fall. For others, the changing of the seasons can be a difficult time.