Winter can be an invigorating time for many people. Coming into the new year, individuals frequently tackle new projects or resurrect those that have languished because they feel they are starting a new slate for the year ahead.
However, some people dread the onset of winter because there is less light in both mornings and afternoons. Cold, wet weather doesn’t help because it drives people inside even more, away from what little natural light does come through during these shortened hours.
Those who experience significant changes in energy and become depressed during winter could be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – also called winter-onset depression – a condition that causes mental and emotional distress among people when they are deprived of light for long periods.
According to the Mayo Clinic, as many as one in five Americans feel the effects of SAD, most of them living in northern climates where the cold compounds the low moods they feel. About 75 percent of those affected by the condition are women.
“There are many people who experience winter blues. However, there are those who are experiencing more serious symptoms,” said William Weggel, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Health System psychiatrist. “The good news is that in most cases, we are able to find a treatment plan to help the patient through the winter months.”
Ways to deal with SAD
In addition to a loss of energy, SAD symptoms include social withdrawal, difficulty concentrating on tasks and moodiness. To improve their outlook and sluggishness, Mayo experts recommend that people take several steps each day to ease the condition.
Using a light therapy box or a light visor on one’s had like a cap will replicate natural light for those who cannot get outside for exposure to sunlight. Typically, sitting in front of the box or wearing a visor for about 30 minutes each day will alleviate symptoms, states FamilyDoctor.org.
Another type of light therapy is the use of a dawn simulator, a timer-activated light that wakens people naturally by mimicking a natural sunrise.
Instead of staying inside all day, Mayo Clinic recommends that people affected by SAD take a short walk outside to gain some natural light exposure. They should also socialize regularly with friends and family members to lighten their spirits.
Dietary supplements such as Natural Energy from Dr. Newton’s Naturals also help raise energy levels with nutrients, including energy-boosting vitamin B and antioxidant vitamin C, to invigorate the body and mind.