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This time of year is my least favorite.
The time of year when it gets dark at 4:30 p.m. When it’s dark when you leave in the morning and dark when you get home. When all the daylight hours happen when you’re at work. It is the worst. Literally, the worst.
Around mid-October, I can feel my mood start to shift. I get bummed out for no reason at all. I get irritable. I can’t sleep for more than a few hours at a time and I’m more tired than usual. I just feel blah.
People who suffer from mood disorders are more likely to develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Unfortunately for me, I have been living with depression for half of my life, so getting SAD is almost a guarantee.
John Hopkins Medicine lists these as symptoms of SAD:
>> Increased sleep and daytime drowsiness
>> Loss of interest and pleasure in activities formerly enjoyed
>> Social withdrawal and increased sensitivity to rejection
>> Irritability and anxiety
>> Feelings of guilt and hopelessness
>> Fatigue, or low energy level
>> Decreased sex drive
>> Decreased ability to focus or concentrate
>> Trouble thinking clearly
>> Increased appetite, especially for sweets and carbohydrates
>> Weight gain
>> Physical problems, such as headaches
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please reach out to your family doctor or mental health professional.
There are things you can do to help battle the winter blues. Here are a few remedies that work for me:
>> Using a light box for 30 minutes a day. My psychiatrist suggested this to me a few years ago and I have noticed that it helps. Here is the one I use.
>> Eating as cleanly as possible. When I’m feeding my body well, I feel better, both mentally and physically.
>> Exercising more. I try to get out for a walk during the daylight hours to soak up some Vitamin D. The activity increases your endorphins, which can help you to feel happier.
>> Taking a Vitamin D supplement daily. We tend to be deficient in this important vitamin during the winter months when we spend less time in the sun. Taking it daily can help with some of the symptoms I mentioned above.
>> Reaching out to family and/or friends on the harder days. I find that calling or texting a friend can improve my mood significantly. My natural response is to shut everyone out, so reaching out to someone always leaves me feeling a little bit better.
These are just a few things you can try to help ease the blues during the winter months. I hope some of them will help you to feel better soon. (Please make sure to get in touch with your doctor, as medication may also be helpful.)
Please remember to always take care of you and make yourself a priority.