Winter in Illinois can be brutal and so very long. As the days get colder and shorter, many people experience the “winter blues.” Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that can begin in the fall and last through the spring.
Symptoms of SAD can include:
• Avoiding others or isolating
• Feeling depressed or sad
• Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
• Change in appetite – eating more or much less
• Sleeping too much
• Loss of energy or increased fatigue
• Trouble concentrating or making decision
Treatment and Prevention
SAD can be treated in a number of different ways. Light therapy, medication and talk therapy are some options. In general, when the weather improves, these symptoms begin to reduce. However if you have experienced this in the past, you could prevent SAD by making lifestyle changes.
Here are some ways to prevent those winter blues from sneaking up on you:
- Do your best to get outside when you can despite the cold. Getting vitamin D by soaking up the sun can help improve energy and focus.
- Make plans! Nowadays if an in-person hang out is too difficult, try something virtual instead. Set up video chats, phone calls, a book club, make dinner with a friend to have something to look forward to.
- Stay active. Try to get a few minutes of exercise in, stay hydrated and make more positive food choices to keep yourself healthy.
- Stick to a schedule! Avoid sleeping during the day and focus on a good sleep routine. Try to wake up around the same time daily and plan your day out.
- Find an activity that brings you joy. Get into puzzles, start volunteering at a food bank, meditate. These activities can be done alone and can also boost your mood.
If you are experiencing symptoms of SAD and these tips are not alleviating your symptoms, consider reaching out to our clinicians at Collaborative Counseling and Psychiatry for help at at (847) 444-2281.
Prepping for winter and avoiding those “blues”
Chandni Parikh, PMHNP, CPNP
Collaborative Counseling and Psychiatry