Healthy Winter #2: Beat Winter Blues
We are almost at the end of winter so fingers are crossed that spring brings some warmth and light back into the days. Our next topic is a big one, and one that is often overlooked. Have you felt particularly sad during the winter? While spending more time at home can be isolating, sometimes this can extend into a feeling of depression. So what does this mean?
If that sounds familiar, you might be experiencing symptoms related to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). SAD can appear similar to a depressive episode that begins during the winter months and resolves in the warmer months. The symptoms often mimic depression, according to Beyond Blue. These can include signs of:
· Feeling hopeless
· Lacking energy
· Changes in sleeping or eating patterns e.g. (over-eating or a lack of appetite)
· Depressed mood and/or irritable
· Difficulty concentrating
So what causes SAD?
There is limited research available to confirm the true cause, but researchers believe that SAD may be related to a lack of sunlight during the winter months.
A lack of vitamin D may result in poor regulation of the hormones melatonin and serotonin. These hormones play important roles in signalling that the body is ready for sleep, regulating mood and appetite. While we Australians are lucky to experience less winter, it’s important to keep an eye on yourself and others during this period. While exercise is a great way to help make sure we process vitamin d efficiently, things like making sure you get enough time outdoors, discussing symptoms to your GP and having a strong support network are good strategies to help maintain your mental health.
If you are currently experiencing feelings of depression or hopelessness, talk to your doctor or call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 for support.
Are you enjoying our Healthy Winter series? Stay tuned for our final part three at the end of winter. We will be discussing ways to keep active and how to maintain motivation during the colder season.