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Got the Winter Blues?

Winter-Onset Seasonal Affective Disorder

There is nothing worse than feeling down and blue during the holidays when everyone around you seems to be bubbly and excited.  However, you are not alone. Approximately half a million people in the United States struggle with winter-onset seasonal affective disorder (aka, the winter blues) and another 10-20 percent of people may experience mild symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  

SAD usually begins in mid fall and remits in early spring.  For some people, they experience reverse SAD and experience symptoms of depression beginning in the spring and remitting in the fall, but that is far less common than winter-onset SAD. 

What Causes These Winter Blues?

When the seasons change, there is less exposure to bright light throughout the day, which impacts some of the neurochemicals in our brains that regulate our mood and our emotions. In addition, less exposure to daylight impacts our levels of melatonin.  Women also tend to be more susceptible to SAD than men.  These factors coupled with genetics and age all contribute to symptoms of SAD.    

What Are Common Symptoms of the Winter Blues?

Symptoms of winter-onset seasonal affective disorder can include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Anxiety
  • Hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of energy
  • Fatigue
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Appetite changes, especially increased cravings for carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating and processing information


How Do I Get Help for Winter Blues?

Common treatment recommendations for SAD include psychotherapy, medication and/or phototherapy (light therapy).  It is also especially important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regiment, even though it may be harder to commit to when you’re feeling down. 


Equilibria Psychological and Consultation Services has mental health clinicians that are trained to help individuals struggling with all forms of depression, including SAD, by utilizing an integrative, strength based treatment model to address each individual's set of unique issues associated with depression. We pull from cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, systems-focused, and insight oriented approaches to design effective treatment, consultation and assessment strategies to help our clients.  Please do not hesitate to contact us at 267-861-3685 if you have any questions or are looking for some help to treat SAD.