Editor’s View: Battling the season’s blahs
Blah. That’s what this time of year feels like - just blah.
Some sort of letdown seems to be in progress. The holidays are over, the decorations likely put away. Although life is returning to a norm, with some structure and organization, this is a hard time for a lot of people.
It’s cold. It’s dark - a lot. It might be dark when you start work and dark when you punch out.
It can be boring. It can be sad.
When the sadness becomes overwhelming and all-consuming, it could be seasonal affective disorder. As its name suggests, this is a type of depression, according to the Mayo Clinic, that’s related to changes in seasons, often beginning and ending about the same times every year.
Millions of American adults may suffer from SAD, although many don’t know they have the condition.
Symptoms to look for include feeling sluggish and depressed most of the day and for consecutive days; losing interest in activities you normally enjoy; noticing a change in appetite or weight; experiencing problems with sleep; having difficulty concentrating; and feeling hopeless or worthless.
So, what exactly causes SAD? Scientists don’t fully know the answer but have some ideas. The reduced amount of sunlight can disrupt your circadian rhythm, which affects your internal clock. Serotonin levels can also be affected by fewer hours of sunshine and can mess with your moods. Melatonin levels can be shifted as well, altering your sleep patterns.
Doctors say it’s normal to have some days when you feel down. When the number of days start adding up and your motivation to do anything at all continues going down, though, it’s time to seek some medical advice.
Treatment for seasonal affective disorder could include light therapy, psychotherapy and prescribed medications.
There are a few things you can do at home to fight off these SAD feelings.
Keep to your sleep schedule. Stick to your traditional wake-up and bed times. Try not to nap during the day.
Get outdoors. Take a walk. Go for a run. Just sit outside. Soak up any sun - and vitamin D - you can.
Brighten up your space. Open the blinds. Sit closer to a window.
Good news - We’re almost a month into winter. Each day, the sun shines just a little bit longer.
And 67 days till spring!