January is often referred to as the most depressing month of the year. It’s not hard to understand why, when we’re all coming down from the cheer of the holiday season and recovering from it’s expenses too. Not to mention, the weather itself is just more dark and dreary around this time of year.
These factors, among others, can put us into a seasonal depression or what’s commonly known as the “winter blues.”
Seasonal depression, or more clinically known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), happens most commonly during the winter season. According to John Hopkins Medicine, the shorter days and less daylight in the winter may trigger a chemical change in the brain leading to symptoms of depression.
While less daylight may trigger seasonal depression in people who are prone to getting anxiety or have pre-existing mood disorders, researchers claim that these are the causes for SAD:
According to Mayo Clinic, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression. So those affected by SAD during winter may exhibit signs of depression such as:
Here are the best treatments for seasonal depression (or SAD) that you can do from home.
Coach tip: If you have a pre-existing medical condition, like bipolar disorder, talk to your doctor. They can prescribe the correct therapy or treatment that won’t trigger a worsening effect such as a manic episode.
Since the lack of sunlight seems to be the culprit for the mood changes during winter, light therapy seems to be the most appropriate treatment.
According to medical sources like Hopkins Medicine, you can get a special light box that will mimic the effects of daylight for regulating serotonin levels. You’d only need a few minutes of exposure each day, but consult with a doctor first to make sure you’re getting a safe and effective product.
You can also try to make your environment at home brighter by opening the blinds, trimming tree branches that shade light, or if budget permits, add skylights. During the day, sit closer to bright windows that get the most light in your home.
Mind-body Coping Methods
According to Mayo Clinic, these mind-body coping methods can be an effective treatment for seasonal depression:
Coach tip: any physical activity or exercise, even if it’s dancing or walking outside, will boost your endorphins, which can immediately improve your mood and self-esteem.
Social isolation can be a huge contributor to depression and can even impact your physical well-being. When you’re feeling depressed, it can be hard to get out and be social, especially in quarantine. However, it’s important to stay connected to your loved ones. They can be there to support you, whether it’s to vent or lighten your day with a funny meme.
If you’d like more tips on how to cope with seasonal depression, try Yes Health free for 14 days, and see what your coaches recommend for you.