Here is my little cheat sheet on Seasonal Affective Disorder (or S.A.D., or Winter Blues), which I prepared from various sources for a media interview:
Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms: increased sleep, lethargy (feeling sluggish or lazy), weight gain, irritability, typically occurs during the winter months
General symptoms in children: feeling down, crying, hopelessness, less interest in activities, more irritable or impatient than usual, anger, body complaints such as headaches or stomachaches, changes in sleeping or eating patterns
Less sunlight may affect amounts of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin, which in turn may contribute to depressive symptoms and affect sleep cycles. (This gives new meaning to the phrase, “Soak up the sun”!)
How you think and how you feel about yourself have an impact on your functioning. Pay attention to the messages you give yourself throughout the day, and keep them positive and realistic. This is very important!
Set reasonable expectations in terms of schedule, behavior, and rest.
Stick to the basics – healthy eating habits, good daily hygiene, drink enough water to stay hydrated, stay active
Some people have only mild symptoms, but if they seem severe seek help from a health care professional
Good news: It’s already February, and as the days continue to lengthen the Seasonal Affective symptoms should decrease
Start preparing for next Winter this Summer around August
As stated above, check with a health care professional (physician, therapist, psychiatrist, counselor, etc.) if the symptoms are severe, or if the symptoms or feelings affect your work, school, or relationship functioning.
Light therapy (ask your health provider) has been used to assist some people with the shortage of daylight according to some studies, but tanning beds have not been shown to work in any research to date.
As with other forms of depression there are always options, even if it doesn’t feel like there are or you can’t seem to see any.