Understanding The Winter Blues

Despite still having about a month-and-a-half until winter officially starts, the days are getting shorter. So it isn’t too early to talk about the winter blues.

dark, foggy scene

What are the Winter Blues?

Simply put, the winter blues is when you feel sad or down during the winter without being able to connect your change of mood to other factors.1

A more official term for the condition is Seasonal Affectional Disorder (SAD), though some say there’s a difference between the two, as SAD lasts longer and interferes with daily functioning. It also predictably shows up each year during the same season.

What Causes Winter Blues?

A common explanation for feeling down in the winter is due to the shorter days, which means less exposure to sunlight.2

The sun is much more than just a humongous light bulb. It also affects your hormonal levels. As nightfall arrives, your body naturally begins to wind down. It releases melatonin and prepares for sleep. When the sun rises, it gives your body a message – wake up, be alert and active!

Now, when the sun starts going down and your body’s chemicals try to get it to call it a day, you start to feel more lethargic.

How to Deal With Winter Blues

The NHS of the U.K. offers several suggestions for dealing with SAD. The first involves light:

“If you feel low in winter, get outside as often as you can, especially on bright days. Sitting by a window can also help.”

Another option is artificial light. Artificial lights mimic the sun’s effect. So exposing yourself to light may do the trick.

There is even something called light therapy, which has successfully helped people overcome SAD. The NHS suggests speaking to your doctor to learn more about this option.

Light can be pretty effective at changing your body’s chemistry. On the flipside, this is also why screen time is so damaging in the late evening. The blue light sets your body up for the opposite of what it’s naturally trying to do.3

Do you know someone who suffers from SAD?

Please share in the comments below.

1 http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/winter-blues-sad/

2 http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/01/beat-winter-blues

3 http://www.livescience.com/53874-blue-light-sleep.html

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