themighty logo

What to Know If Your Depression Is Worse in the Winter

Ahh, it is that time of year, once again; the clocks have gone back an hour, making 5 p.m. feel more like 6 p.m., and it gets dark at 4:30 p.m. Not only is the outside world seemingly grayer, but your outlook on things may be as well. You start to feel down and have no explanation for why you feel this way, other than it’s just the weather; then, you are dealing with seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Out of the entire year, I always find this is the time that makes life seem so much tougher than others. The time goes back, and it is almost like our energy goes back with it. We lose so much motivation for us to want to go out and do things. For many, winter or when the clocks turn back always brings on a case of seasonal depression, where the bleakness of the weather makes one want to curl up in bed the entire time.

Seasonal depression is a mood disorder that happens every year at the same time. A rare form of seasonal depression, known as “summer depression,” begins in late spring or early summer and ends in fall, but as of right now, I am sure lots of people would much rather it be summer. In general, though, SAD starts in fall or winter and ends in spring or early summer. A lot of people deal with this, and some may not even know they do yet, as they just think they are dealing with the “winter blues.” However, that is not always the case.

Some of the symptoms for seasonal depression is lack of energy, wanting to sleep more, increase in appetite, weight gain, desire to be alone and fatigue. Whereas these symptoms may just seem like the symptoms of depression in general, the difference is that they only present themselves when the temperature starts to drop.

Why does this time of year bring such a shift in all our moods? There are quite a few factors that attribute to this, such as the change in temperature, the bleakness of the weather and the fact it gets dark around 5 p.m. Most of these factors lead to a lack of sunlight, which provides us with vitamin D as well as serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps boost our moods and makes us happier and feel better. The lack of this that we have during the winter months can seriously affect our mood, giving the symptoms of having depression.

In addition to this, it can really be a time where we allow our minds to constantly overthink things. The smallest change in someone else’s mood or pattern makes us question everything.

Unfortunately, without medication or a vacation, there is not much that can be done to get one back into a positive mindset. Seasonal depression can last from November to March, so that is four months of dealing with it, though if you add in Christmas, it is really three — I personally think December is always a cheerful and happy month.

The best sort of advice I have for anyone dealing with this is to let the people it may affect the most be aware, so this way they understand when you ask them a million questions. The other thing is to keep active; as much as you do not want to, this can help pull you out of that negative headspace into a better one. And, just allow yourself more “you-time,” whatever that entails. Spend more time focusing on relaxing yourself and allowing yourself to feel better.

Only 124 days (at time of writing) until the time changes and we do not have to deal with it anymore!

Photo by Latrach Med Jamil on Unsplash