Help for the Winter Blues

January 10, 2021

Cooler weather, more time spent indoors and fewer hours of sunlight can lead to a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sometimes called the “winter blues”. The isolation that comes with being in quarantine, along with the accompanying stress of dealing with COVID-19, may be adding to this “down” feeling for many people.

Get to Know the Signs and Symptoms of SAD

Depression is one of the most common reasons people seek help. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depression may include symptoms like loss of interest in things you previously enjoyed, changes in appetite or weight, sleep problems, and feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day. Those with SAD may experience additional symptoms including the following:

  • Oversleeping (hypersomnia)
  • Overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”)

Find Help When You Need It

While many people experience milder symptoms associated with seasonal mood changes, it’s important to talk to your doctor if your symptoms become more serious. For instance, if you notice changes that are making it difficult to go about your daily tasks or if your feelings are changing the way you think and feel.

Northwest Texas Healthcare System Behavioral Health has been providing treatment for those experiencing behavioral health challenges for more than 40 years. Located on the campus of Northwest Texas Healthcare System in Amarillo, Texas, it offers treatment services for children, adolescents, adults and seniors. Each person’s treatment is overseen by a multidisciplinary team of mental health professionals.

Tips for Combating the Seasonal Blues

For those with milder symptoms associated with seasonal changes, here are some things you can do to help chase the winter blues.

Stay Connected to People

While quarantine is making it difficult to gather with friends and family, there are ways to stay connected. Take advantage of technologies like Zoom that allow you to see and speak with loved ones. Consider investing in a device like the Amazon Alexa Show that lets you video chat with friends with compatible devices. If those aren’t an option, explore ways of connecting with others while maintaining your region’s recommended quarantine guidelines — perhaps a socially distanced walk. If all else fails, stay connected by telephone. And remember to reach out to those who may be struggling.

Exercise

Moving more can help you feel better and potentially improve your mood. Something as simple as walking is an excellent way to keep your body in motion. Be sure to head outside when the weather permits. Check with your doctor before starting any new fitness routine.

Let the Sunshine In

Decreased exposure to sunlight can impact your mood. Open the curtains and bask in the warmth of the sun for 15-20 minutes, or consider purchasing an artificial sunlight lamp.

Find a Hobby

Take this time at home to explore a new hobby or recommit to an activity you once enjoyed but have spent less time on through the years. Explore online resources to take a class or learn a new language or other skill.