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I Got the Winter Blues

8 Winter BluesEver find yourself without any energy during the long winter months, streaming every possible movie there is on Netflix while eating bags of junk food? Turns out having the winter blues is no joke and could be symptomatic of a larger problem: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is usually marked by episodes of depression, oversleeping and fatigue, carbohydrate craving and weight gain.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 4 to 6 percent of the United States population experiences SAD between the months of October and April; with even more people afflicted with a milder form of “winter blues.”

Monarch therapist Richale Reed, MA, LPC, LCAS-A said “SAD is generally experienced in the autumn and winter due to a lack of sufficient sunlight. This happens with the time changes but also as the weather changes to more cloudy and rainy days.”

Reed warned people are at risk of other complications  if SAD and the Winter Blues are left untreated.

You place yourself at risk for experiencing a myriad of complications from decreased performance at home/work to suicidal thoughts and behaviors,” she explained. “This can be avoided by seeking help from a professional you trust who can refer you to a qualified and caring therapist in your area.”

She also provided a number of other tips to help during the long, cold winter:

  • Increase natural sunlight. I always say, “Depression loves darkness! It feeds off of it.” Whether at home or work, make it a priority to open the blinds as soon as the sun comes up. Important here is the keyword "natural" light. This means that even on cloudy days, where there is no apparent sunlight, make a habit of opening your blinds to let that natural light in.
  • When inside, sit near a window as often as you can.
  • Choose to see the winter in a positive light instead of a negative one; learn to enjoy it. Do this by getting out and enjoying the weather by yourself, or with friends.
  • Stay on a regular daily routine, make gradual improvements to your diet and exercise as eating too many carbs and sweets can contribute to SAD symptoms. 
  • Additionally, because we get Vitamin D from both foods and sunlight, attention to Vitamin D levels is also necessary. Take an OTC supplement, and if there are no changes see your primary doctor to conduct lab work.

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