Those living in northern climates often see a lowering of mood during the winter months. Low light levels can lead to hormonal shifts resulting in lethargy and depession sometimes called the “Winter Blues”, Depression, or “Seasonal
Affective Disorder.” (SAD)
This is a time when it’s more important to engage in self care such as exercise, yoga, or indulgences like a therapeutic massage or a warm bath. Choosing to eat well and taking into account the need to eat for energy, it’s critical to choose foods that may help boost and sustain you such as walnuts and blueberries. When the weather is rough, we can take advantage of it so a rainy or blustery day is a perfect time to visit museums, catch a comedy show or concert, or see a play.
As a Therapist providing counseling in Chestnut Hill and Lower Gwynedd, PA, I realize that if your moods dips further and you are experiencing irritability, excessive worry, difficulties with sleep and/or appetite, or if you find it is interfering with your ability to function at work or at home or within your relationships, this is a signal to seek professional care or a Depression assessment with a Licensed Counselor or Psychologist or talk to your doctor. Any thoughts of
harming yourself or others are a sign to seek immediate help.
Light and sun exposure also helps. Recent research shows that low levels of Vitamin D may be associated with depression. A Physician can perform a simple blood test to check your Vitamin D level and rule out any other physical contributors to depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
What can we do if it’s just a winter time slump? Embrace the season by taking advantage of the unique sights and sounds. Now is the time to go sledding, take a brisk walk, connect with others, volunteer, do something artistic even if you aren’t
artsy, try snowboarding. Curl up by a fireplace and if you don’t have one visit
a friend or restaurant that does.
Deb Owens is a Licensed Professional Counselor proving counseling to adults and couples in Spring House and Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA. 215-802-6521