The NHS estimates that winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects around 2 million in the UK, and about 12 million people across northern Europe.
Does everyone get winter blues?
People of all ages including children are susceptible to SAD, though the winter months tend to affect women, young people and people with a family history of depression more.
Signs & Symptoms
Seasonal affective disorder occurs most often in the winter season, but it can sometimes happen in the spring or early summer too. It seems to be triggered by changes in the amount of sunlight one gets.
During winter months, we are likely to experience a decrease in vitamin D level due to a lack of sunlight, which causes symptoms similar to depression such as mood changes accompanied by overwhelming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair. The lack of natural light also causes a drop in serotonin level, the hormones that make us feel happy.
Other symptoms include:
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Problems with sleep schedule, difficult sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss interest in people, work, hobbies or sex
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Having low energy, feeling slow down, sluggish or agitation
- Having low self-esteem
- Feeling pessimistic, useless, or excessively guilty
- Having difficulties remembering, concentrating or making decisions
- Suicide thoughts
- A loss of touch with reality, hearing voices (hallucinations) or having strange ideas (delusions)
What can you do to feel like yourself again?
These are some of the most practical ways to lift your mood if you’re experiencing winter blues;
Exercise is a good way to improve your mood - take a walk, a jog around the area or exercise indoors to the videos on YouTube.
Get some light
According to research, taking a daily one-hour stroll in the middle of the day when light levels are at their highest may be just as effective as light treatment for the winter blues. If you prefer to stay indoors, sit by a window where the sun comes in to get some natural sunlight.
Eat hot drinks such as tea, coffee and hot food. Wear warm clothes and shoes, and try to keep your home temperature stable between 18C and 21C (or 64F and 70F degrees).
The importance of a healthy diet
A balanced diet will improve your mood, give you more energy and prevent you from gaining weight throughout the winter. Having a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables will lower your cravings for carbohydrates like spaghetti and potatoes.
Talk to someone
Social interaction has been demonstrated to improve mental health and combat the winter blues. Accept any invites you receive to social gatherings and try to stay in touch with the people you care about, even if it's just for a short while.
Talk things through with your psychotherapy, counselling, GP or join a support group to share your experience with people who understand what it feels like to have SAD.
Other treatments include pharmacotherapy (medications); psychotherapy; psychoeducation; and brain intervention therapies such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and magnetic seizure therapy (MST).
It’s normal to feel blues sometimes, but if it spans for days at a time and you can’t seem to have the energy and motivation to enjoy your daily life and normal activities, see your healthcare provider. Early detection and diagnosis is key to recovery.
If you’re prone to SAD, moving your home to an area that has more sunlight is not a bad idea. Edward Baden is UK’s leading company in relocation services, which has more than 20 years of expertise in the relocation industry. From relocation services, crate hire, storage to coworking space, we are a one-stop solution that will cater to all your needs.