November 29, 2021

Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder (Winter Blues) By: HOC Behavioral Health Specialist Joel Hoelscher

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also commonly referred to as the “Winter Blues”, is real and affects many people during the long winter months. SAD can negatively impact a person’s mental health and have long-lasting effects even into spring and summer. Symptoms a person feels often replicate and/or are similar to Major Depressive Disorder. These symptoms may include a lack of enjoyment in activities, the urge or need to isolate, increased mood swings (increased irritability) and a general loss of overall motivation. Others may experience an increased desire to sleep resulting in loss of a regular routine. During the pandemic, these symptoms can have an even great impact due to isolation and social distancing recommendations.

The following are helpful tips on how to beat SAD and take care of your mental health this winter:

– Having a consistent exercise routine is proven to help boost your mood and improve your physical health.
– Make routine social plans, even if they are virtual. Staying in bed can enhance depressive symptoms. Even getting together with a friend on FaceTime can help with loneliness.
– Add more light to your room by opening the blinds OR get a “light therapy” lamp, bulb or light box, to help mimic the sun’s rays. This is most effective in the morning and can help in starting daily tasks.
– Avoid overloading on unhealthy foods and try to maintain a healthy diet. For example, eating too many carbohydrates can make a person tired and less likely to be active.
– Try to participate in new activities or try old/forgotten ones. This may help spark an interest that can provide structure and productivity.
– Seek counseling if your SAD worsens and you feel the above recommendations aren’t helping. Consulting with a trained professional to help facilitate talk therapy is an effective way to find alternative coping strategies or methods.

The Hemophilia Outreach Center offers counseling from a clinically based mental health professional trained to help with SAD and other mental health disorders. If you would like to pursue behavioral health services through HOC please do not hesitate to contact HOC at 920-965-0606 to schedule an appointment with Joe Hoelscher, MSW, LCSW.

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