What is the winter blues?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is commonly known as the winter blues.  The winter blues is a depression or bipolar mood that happened around the same time every year usually due to a lack of Vitamin D.  Symptoms most commonly begin in the fall and continue through the winter.

Every year, about 5% of the U.S. population struggles with the winter blues.

Some easy ways to help yourself through the gray sky months:

Find Ways to Get Outside

In Washington our winter daylight hours are short enough as it is, don’t spend all day inside.  A short walk or winter sports can be a healthy way to get some sunlight in.

Be Mindful Of What Your Eating

One of the symptoms of seasonal depression is an increased appetite.  Eating more calories can easily increase your weight and waistline, making you feel even worse about yourself.  If you want to eat a carbohydrate heavy dinner, make substitutions to add complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates include whole grains like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, spinach, and lentils.

Make Your Area Brighter

Sunlight can help brighten up a room and help improve your mood.  The extra light into your home has a subtle effect on your mood.  If you are looking to keep your privacy while also letting in light, try sheer curtains or removable window frosting paper (for renters).


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Be Social

Being social has a huge mood boosting effect on your brain.  Staying at home all day might sound very cozy, don’t continue the cycle if it is causing your mood to sour. Plan a day trip with friends, or try volunteering at a local organization!

Vitamin D Supplement

Try taking a daily vitamin D supplement.  Studies show that a vitamin D supplement produced improvements in mood and disposition.

Light Therapy

If none of the above work, try light therapy.  Which consists of sitting in front of an artificial light source for a few minutes each day.  Light therapy has been shown to suppress the release of melatonin in the brain, which has an antidepressant effect.  Light therapy has been shown to be effective in 85 percent of cases.

Note: this does not include tanning!

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If your feelings are persisting, contact one of our primary care physicians at 425-903-3141 or schedule an appointment online. 

Photo via AdobeStock