CLEVELAND – After the clocks have been changed many of us feel the winter doldrums start to creep in.
But, according to Scott Bea, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic, if the winter blues causes anxiety, it may actually be the onset of seasonal depression.
“This is sometimes a way that you can tell whether you’re wrestling with seasonal depression, is your anticipation of the change of seasons,” he said. “People start to notice that the days are getting shorter; it’s getting darker. They may have some anticipation and think, ‘I really struggle’ during these months.’”
For people who live in the northern part of the country, seasonal affective disorder, or ‘SAD’, is a common type of depression and it tends to impact women more often than men
Dr. Bea said feeling sluggish, tired, more irritable, or developing a craving for carbohydrates are all warning signs of seasonal depression.
To treat ‘SAD,’ he said many people turn to light therapy which has been shown to be an effective method of treatment.
Light therapy involves buying a light box of at least 10,000 lux, and sitting in front of it for about a half hour every day.
Other people choose to use medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.
According to Dr. Bea, a lack of socialization and a lack of movement, which happens when we’re cooped up in our homes, can contribute to the symptoms of seasonal depression.
He recommends making plans to socialize and exercise, before the frigid months kick in.
“It takes a little time to create habits, but setting up those social opportunities, or a new obligation that’s going to put you in contact with people would be great, or a way to move your body, to renew a gym membership, and really use it,” said Dr. Bea.
For folks who are really struggling with seasonal depression, Dr. Bea recommends seeking the help of a medical professional.