Changing of Seasons and Mental Health: What’s The Link?

Oct 4, 2022

October is now here and we are quickly approaching the end of the year! 

With Fall and Winter upon us, the weather is getting colder and the days are getting shorter. While there are many people who love the changing of seasons, there are also those whose mental health is impacted by this change.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is different from occasional feelings of sadness, unhappiness, and loneliness. SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. Typically, it begins and ends at about the same times every year.

Symptoms usually start at the beginning of Fall and last through the Winter months. It is uncommon that SAD causes depression in the Spring and Summer months.

Some Symptoms of SAD include:

  • Feeling sad or down most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy and feeling sluggish
  • Having problems with sleeping too much
  • Experiencing carbohydrate cravings, overeating and weight gain
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having thoughts of not wanting to live
  • Irritability
  • Isolation and social withdrawal

What are some ways to fight SAD?

1. Schedule time outside during the day

Although the weather is colder and there is less sunlight during the day, it is extremely important to get outside. Spending time outdoors or even near a window with great light exposure can help relieve SAD symptoms.

Regular vitamin D intake is believed to promote serotonin activity, so even a quick walk once a day can do wonders! 

2. Maintain a regular sleep schedule 

Shorter and darker days can affect melatonin levels throughout the body. For many, this fluctuation in both melatonin and serotonin can disrupt sleep cycles, so try and maintain a regular sleeping pattern.

Going to bed and waking up at scheduled times can help sustain balance throughout the winter.

3. Move your body

Get regular exercise throughout the winter to help keep SAD at bay. Increased endorphin levels can help combat feelings of depression and sadness. Exercising looks different for everyone.

Whether it’s a light jog outdoors, a brisk walk, stretching in the evening, or morning yoga, try and fit in 30-minutes of exercise per day into your routine!

4. Look after your mental and physical health

Taking care of yourself requires looking after both your mental and physical health. Observing your emotions, connecting with people you love, and talking to a mental health professional are all ways to care for your mental health. Taking care of your body is imperative when fighting SAD.

Eating well, getting ample sleep, and regular exercise are just some of the ways to take care of your physical health this SAD season.

5. Do things that bring you joy

Be gentle and kind to yourself this Fall and Winter. Do things that make you happy. Make yourself a healthy meal, watch movies that make you laugh, play board games, or read a book that makes you smile! Whatever the activity is, try to do things that bring you joy!

Because SAD looks like other mental health conditions, it is recommended that one consults with a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Winter won’t last forever.

Daylight starts to increase after the winter solstice, so hang in there, take care of yourself, and reach out if necessary. We are available for mental health resources including free therapy sessions through BetterHelp. Please apply for financial assistance if needed, and we will get back to your request shortly. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

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