During the cold seasons, many people feel distressed and wonder what helps with winter depression when symptoms worsen. Typically, the condition occurs in the fall and winter months and fades in the spring, depending on how severe it is. In addition, daylight and weather changes, which occur mainly in winter, trigger mild to moderate forms of depression. With such a seasonal pattern and lack of sunlight, many just want to stay under the covers and feel low in mood and energy. Fortunately, there are effective measures and steps that can counteract moodiness or gloom. Here are some useful tips that anyone affected can follow to help themselves.
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What symptoms are typical and what helps against winter depression?
After disposing of or composting the Christmas tree and radio stations have postponed the cheerful Christmas music until the next winter season, melancholy is not uncommon in January. It is harder to get up from, and when you do, your mood resembles the landscape – cold, dark and unpleasant. In such a doldrums, it is even possible to gain a few kilos, and the weight gain can be far worse. In addition, the darker days can disrupt the body’s internal “clock” or circadian rhythm, affecting the parts of the brain that produce hormones like serotonin and melatonin. But how can you tell if you are affected by seasonal depression?
It is thought that changes in the fall and winter, such as fewer hours of daylight, can negatively affect mood. The main symptoms manifest themselves in many people through the following conditions:
- Having difficulty waking up and sleeping more than usual
- feeling tired and lethargic
- feeling hungrier than usual and craving fattening and sugary carbohydrates
- gain weight
- have difficulty staying in touch with family and friends
- feel anxious, irritable, and depressed
- have difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- lose interest in sex
- feel heavy, sluggish, and slow to move
- Feel helpless or even have suicidal thoughts
Some people find that light therapy helps relieve their symptoms. This involves using an artificial light box to mimic the effects of sunlight in the darker winter months. So one solution is to get as much sunlight as possible. Light enters the eye and activates the internal clock, which is similar to what controls seasonal mating and hibernation in animals. Other treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy or antidepressants. However, there are other ways to help yourself, and here are some ideas for overcoming winter depression more easily.
Self-help tips for seasonal psychological crises.
As mentioned earlier, there are some methods you can try on your own to help yourself with symptoms of seasonal depression. Even if you don’t necessarily suffer from it, these tips can help you take care of yourself during the winter months.
- Move more and exercise during daylight hours – Get ready to go for a walk, swim indoors, or go to the gym. Exercise can work just as well as antidepressants in combating mild to moderate depression. If reducing daylight hours is affecting your mood, try to make the most of it. What helps with winter depression? – Get outside when you can. Even a cloudy day provides your body with the light it craves. Whether it’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed or a stop during your lunch break, dress warmly and get out into nature!
- Eat healthy – In addition to maintaining your exercise levels, a healthy, balanced diet improves mood and energy levels during the winter months. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains can boost your energy and are vital throughout the year. Deep green or orange fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, kale and carrots have nutrients that can also promote a better mood and complete health. Avoid alcohol, however, as it can worsen symptoms.
- Let natural sunlight in – If you work indoors, try to let as much sunlight into your work environment as possible. Open any curtains or blinds and sit by a window if you can. This way, you can not only make your environment brighter, but also try to bring the outdoors in with some houseplants to make you feel a little closer to nature.
- Socialize – Maintain social relationships by making phone calls, setting up a video chat, or writing short text messages. Checking in with others improves your mood on both sides.
What else helps with winter depression?
If you’re feeling depressed, it’s especially important to remember to stay positive. During times of constant negative messages, strive for a positive attitude and move forward with determination and hope. Participate in activities that are positive, heartwarming, stress-reducing and make you laugh. Try to imagine yourself getting through this condition. Here are some other simple actions that can help you stay positive:
- Remember that things won’t be this way forever.
- Remind yourself of the good in your life.
- Limit TV time and watch more fun videos.
- Watch out for your neighbors and stay healthy.
- Give someone a gift that will bring them joy.
- Make the most of your newfound time.
- Practice random acts of kindness in general and try to stay kind.
Stay organized with a schedule and keep a journal.
Everyone can think of reasons why they shouldn’t get something done, but creating and sticking to a schedule can help avoid isolation and lingering that leave you feeling down. So it can be helpful to plan ahead for those difficult days. This may mean stocking up on things you need or freezing meals, for example, in case you don’t feel like cooking. You could also think about rescheduling meetings or events for another time, or planning some relaxing activities. Maintaining a regular schedule will also improve sleep. This can help alleviate the symptoms of seasonal depression.
In addition, writing down your thoughts can have a positive effect on your mood. It can help you get some of your negative feelings out of your system. By doing this, you prioritize life’s problems and identify your depression triggers. Include your thoughts, feelings and concerns in your journal. A good time to do this is at night so you can reflect on everything that has happened in the last 24 hours. You can keep a diary either on paper or with an app on your phone. By noting your symptoms, you can identify any patterns. This way, you’ll better understand what helps with winter depression.
Prevent vitamin deficiency and talk to a doctor or psychotherapist
Take in enough vitamin D, as a deficiency can also be a risk factor for depressive symptoms. Low vitamin D levels can be common in people with seasonal depression due to low food intake or not enough sun exposure. Experts don’t know for sure whether taking vitamin D supplements can relieve symptoms. However, making sure you get enough sunlight during the day and including vitamin D-rich foods in your diet can help. Sunlight is a source of vitamin D, which is associated with sharper thinking and better emotional health. Talk to your doctor about testing your vitamin D levels and whether supplements are right for you.
If you have had signs of seasonal mental disorder for more than two weeks and the lifestyle changes described above are not helping to relieve symptoms, it may be time to talk to a therapist or contact a behavioral health specialist. Depression can be a serious condition and the longer treatment is delayed, the more difficult recovery will be.