Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

The Winter Blues

Photo by Aaron Burden

It is common for people to feel down or a little depressed in the winter. For many, it is dark in the morning when heading to work, and by the time they head home again, it is dark again. With this, it feels like the whole day just slipped away. The winter blues or seasonal affective disorder actually affects many people in late fall and early winter. The rational behind this is that there are shorter, darker days in the winter with less daylight so there is higher production of melatonin which can cause lethargy and symptoms of feeling down. It is also felt that a drop in a brain neurotransmitter, serotonin, that affects mood may also contribute to triggering low mood.

Some ways to prevent and treat this feeling are:

  • See your doctor, sometimes vitamin D deficiency can make you prone to seasonal affective disorder. The sun is a source of vitamin D. There is a correlation between those with less exposure to sun and depression. Vitamin D produces the happy hormones serotonin and dopamine and with Vitamin D deficiency, there are less of these happy hormones. Make a point to incorporate vitamin D fortified milk, cereal, and juice in your diet and get about 10-30 minutes of sun exposure a day.
  • Stay active-exercise, that boost of energy will make you feel better
  • Take advantage of the sunlight and go out in the middle of the day to be able to get some “light therapy”
  • Socialize with friends and family
  • Eat healthy
  • Pick up a new activity or hobby be it cooking, reading, knitting, piano, or whatever you fancy