January 31, 2022 | Tags: Wellness Mental health

With winter officially here, it’s normal for people to start feeling more tired, a little run down or just not their normal selves. But in some cases, this response can be a very real form of depression called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

Common symptoms of SAD:

  • Feeling sad, grumpy, moody or anxious most of the time
  • Losing interest in your usual activities
  • Sleeping more and feeling drowsy during the day
  • Gaining weight

SAD typically occurs in the winter months because people are exposed to less sunlight, which can upset their sleep-wake cycle. That’s why it is more common in people who live in areas where the amount of daylight changes significantly from season to season.

One good treatment for SAD is light therapy. This involves getting exposure to very bright light (usually from a special fluorescent lamp) for 30 to 90 minutes a day. Some people see a difference within a few days, but symptoms can return if you don’t stick with it every day.

Regular exercise can also improve symptoms of SAD. Being active during the day (especially first thing in the morning) can help you have more energy and feel less depressed. Moderate exercise such as walking, riding a stationary bike or swimming is a good way to get started.

Everyone has days when you feel down, and there are things you can do to improve your mood. But if those feelings last for days at a time and you can't seem to get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, be sure to tell your doctor.

Sources: American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association