How to Prepare for the Winter Blues
As we leave summer behind and start to head towards winter, we need to be aware of the mental health implications that this can bring. Many of us can suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD. Often, people who feel depressed during winter might brush it off as ‘winter blues’, when it is actually SAD; a very harmful condition that affects our mental health. We need to start viewing our winter blues as something more than a passing fancy, and as the acute mental health issue, it is.
Read on to learn more about SAD, it’s symptoms and why we can suffer from it. With more knowledge on the mental health condition, you can start to take our advice on how to prepare and overcome it this winter.
What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression which comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. While it is more common to suffer from SAD during winter, some people can face depression in the summer and feel better in the colder months. The reason it is sometimes known as winter depression or ‘winter blues’ is that the symptoms are usually more apparent and severe during that time of the year.
The exact cause of SAD isn’t known, but there are a few leading theories about it being linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days. There is the belief that the lack of sunlight could stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus from working properly; which may affect the production of melatonin, serotonin and our body’s internal clock. All of these are vital to maintaining a healthy body and a happy mind, and without a normal production of them, this could lead to depression.
Symptoms of SAD can include a persistent low mood, a loss of pleasure or interest for typical everyday activities and irritability. People with SAD can also have feelings of despair, guilt or worthlessness, as well as a lack of energy despite sleeping during the day or sleeping for longer than usual in the night.
Get Support from Friends
As we start to enter the colder months, now is the best time to start preparing for SAD if you are concerned about it or have faced it in the past. Often, the first people we look to for support are our friends and family. Some people don’t like sharing their mental health troubles with their close relatives, but it could be a great way to create a support system for this winter.
Ask your friends and family to help you during this time by recognising the symptoms of SAD and become more aware that your irritable mood has nothing to do with them. If they don’t understand you are suffering from SAD, they may perceive some of your symptoms as you being lazy and rude. If they understand the truth then they can work with you in order to get through days where you are feeling down and tired. Think of things which can boost your mood as you face SAD; such as seeing friends and family or throwing yourself into the festivities. Your family can come to see you at your home on days you are feeling down, or you can try to get out of bed and visit them to push yourself further out of this rut.
Speak to a Therapist
If you feel like you can’t speak to your friends and family, or that you need extra support, then there is always the option of contacting a therapist. Therapists can help you understand your SAD and how it alters and impacts your mental health. You can’t effectively try to tackle SAD unless you understand your mind completely and how it works. Once you have that knowledge, you can work with a therapist like myself to prepare for the winter blues in the future and prevent the hard-hitting symptoms that come with SAD.
Working with a therapist can help you to implement ways that can help you get through tough days when all you want to do is lie in bed. Without this support, your SAD can affect your work and personal life, with many days off and holidays used up. If you want to open up more to friends and family, a therapist can help you figure out an effective way to communicate with them about your mental health without feeling judged or scared.
To learn more about my services as a therapist, and how I can help support you through depression, check out my website today. Don’t let your SAD bring you down every year, make this winter the season you put an end to it.