Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Winter Blues

This post was written by Brittany Cruz, Certified Nurse Practitioner at the Beloit Area Community Health Center.

Learn how to recognize signs of the ‘winter blues’

Brittany Cruz
Brittany Cruz, Certified Nurse Practitioner

Although the winter season doesn’t officially begin until December 21, I am already seeing many patients who are sharing with me that they are feeling the winter blues.

Shorter and colder days mean that people are getting less Vitamin D and more likely to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

Although it is common for many people to experience the “winter blues,” described as feeling down, tired and unmotivated, it is also important to know that patients should be aware of when feeling like this could possibly require medical attention. SAD can be debilitating and hinder someone from going about their everyday routine and enjoying life.

Living in the Midwest makes it difficult to receive enough sunlight, which is the number one producer of Vitamin D. You should talk to your medical provider when you are experiencing these symptoms during the winter months:

  • Trouble or difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling less social than usual or hibernating/isolating yourself
  • Overeating or oversleeping
  • Difficulty enjoying things that you enjoyed doing before

Your provider can order a lab test to confirm low levels of Vitamin D, or to rule out any other causes.

The good news is many of the treatments for the winter blues and SAD can be done at home:

  • Getting natural sunlight whenever possible by going for a brisk walk, sledding, being outdoors when weather permits.
  • Light Therapy treatment: Light Therapy replicates natural light with light boxes, that use white fluorescent bulbs to mimic sunlight.
  • Meditation and yoga
  • Exercise

Sometimes however, medication may be needed to regulate chemical imbalances, your healthcare provider is your best support. You do not need to suffer alone.