Many people struggle in the winter months with feelings of sadness or depression. For some, this is a simple case of the winter blue. But for three percent of the population, it’s a serious clinical condition called seasonable affective disorder (SAD). Even others already diagnosed with clinical depression experience more severe symptoms at this time of year.
Whether simply a seasonal drop in mood or a serious clinical condition, this trend seems to come from a common trigger: the reduced exposure to sunlight that is inevitable during this darker season.
But it’s more than a feeling—this condition can take a real physical toll on the body, to varying degrees of severity. Physical symptoms of winter blues and SAD include:
- Fatigue: It may become difficult to get out of bed in the morning and you may feel more tired throughout the day.
- Difficulty focusing: You may struggle to concentrate on normal everyday tasks, or to think creatively.
- Cravings: You may experience cravings for high carb foods like chocolate, bread and soda.
- Weight gain: Fluctuations to weight are not uncommon with the winter blues.
- Disengagement: You may lose interest in activities you usually find enjoyable, such as going out with friends.
Brightening the Season
Typical winter blues will improve on their own as the days get longer and the sun comes out more. In the meantime, exercise, make time for activities you enjoy, and try to stick to a normal sleep schedule.
But if you experience exaggerated symptoms of clinical depression, suicidal thoughts, or other strong symptoms that make you suspect your winter blues may be more than just a mood, talk to a doctor right away.