With winter comes cold weather, a reduction in sunlight, and the potential to feel a bit down. The winter blues are common and can cause tiredness and a shift in mood, though they don’t normally hinder your ability to find enjoyment in life. Winter blues normally clear up on their own or can be aided by getting more exposure to daylight, vitamin D supplements, or by adding certain foods such as omega-3 fatty acids and protein to your diet.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is much more than winter blues, it is a form of depression related to the change in seasons and the shortening of daylight hours. It occurs in areas of the world where there is less sunlight during specific seasons. This lack of sunlight can throw circadian rhythms—which influence our sleep-wake cycle—out of whack, and cause deficiencies in certain vitamins and hormones in the brain such as serotonin, which helps to regulate mood.
SAD is much more prevalent in northern latitudes of the world than southern areas. It usually occurs during the late fall and winter months. Symptoms include changes in mood, fatigue, depression, feelings of hopelessness, and social withdrawal. The link between seasonal depression and light was first identified by National Institutes of Health researchers in the early 1980s. . Treatment includes behavioral changes such as increasing access to daylight or clinical approaches such as light therapy (phototherapy), talk therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications such as certain antidepressants.
Citing studies from Mount Sinai’s REVOLV Study, which was sponsored by View Inc.; the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience; the Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America; and other health organizations, View compiled a list of reasons you might be feeling the winter blues and how you can combat it.