Ways to Avoid the Winter Blues


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Just as we inhale the chilled breath of fall, winter is about to nip at our heels. Before we know it, now is blanketing the campus and we're driven indoors to shelter from the cold. Now the environment around us becomes a gray canvas lacking vivid colors and the only sun we see, is on television. This is when my mood normally begins to fall and my character becomes more gloomy. My question is: Why? What is the exact psychological impact of winter and its scenery?  And how can we college students, avoid the winter blues? 

There actually is a name for this long-term mood swing, and its identity is: SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Some scientists believe it is due to one's sensitivity with light. "Many studies have shown that people with seasonal affective disorder feel better after exposure to bright light." (Downs,WebMD). Serotonin, a brain chemical produced in our body, is affected by this as well and is responsible for our mood (MayoClinic). Therefore, due to lack of light, our body's are slowly but surely getting "SAD"er (haha get it?). The winter days are shorter, therefore more hours are spent in the dark thus causing a dip in emotions. 

Scientists believe another factor that causes SAD is our body's sleep/wake cycle. Because of winter's shift in time, our body's circadian rhythm is then thrown off. "The wall clock may tell you it's time to get up and at 'em, but your body's internal clock says you should be resting." (Downs,WebMD). These symptoms can begin to show near the end of fall and last throughout winter-until the sunny days of spring return again.

Symptoms of SAD are a lot like symptoms of depression. To read more on what symptoms to look for you can visit this webpage. Ways to prevent the seasonal depression are also possible. Either way, don't be afraid to recognize that your winter blues aren't just that, but maybe something more serious such as Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

Treatment:
  • Phototherapy (light therapy) or getting light for your body by stepping outside on a sunny day
  • eat healthy
  • avoid caffeine/alcohol
  • exercise 

Citations

  1. Feature, Martin Downs, MPHWebMD. "What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder/Winter Depression?" WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2013
  2. Staff, Mayo Clinic. "Definition." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 22 Sept. 2011. Web. 18 Sept. 2013.
  3. "Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - Causes and Risk Factors." WebMD. WebMD, 03 Jan. 0000. Web. 18 Sept. 2013.
  4. Consumer Guide, Editors Of. "Discovery Health." Discovery Fit and Health. Discovery Communications, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2013.

2 Comments

Good article!! Adjusting to four seasons in a year wasn't easy as an immigrant from the Equatorial region of West Africa. Winter was quite depressing at first and the hopes of an enjoyable summer was often thwarted by the ridiculously high temperatures in New York; State College wasn't any better. Now I know that those sad moments were actually SAD moments, I'll be sure to keep just one alarm schedule each night. This article talks about how weather, which is minuscule compared to season, affects mood http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/11/09/weather-can-change-your-mood/

I love this blog post solely because of the fact that I know that if there is anybody who suffers from the winter blues, it's definitely me. When the weather starts getting cold, I become a total grump and I don't change until it's spring again! Who knows? Maybe I may actually suffer from SAD.

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