The truth behind “winter blues”

Published 2:13 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The holiday season is most commonly known as a time of joy, happiness, generosity and good-natured cheer when families and friends get together and enjoy each other’s company.

There is a darker side of the holiday season, however. Referred to by laymen as “winter blues,” seasonal depression is a real very real disorder and it affects millions of people each and every year.

The clinical term is Seasonal Affective Disorder, and according to an article on, it affects an estimated 10 million people seasonally.

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SAD begins in the fall or winter and lasts until spring. The prevailing theory as to why SAD occurs is that it may be linked to the surge of melatonin — which is common once the seasons and it begins to get darker earlier. Melatonin regulates sleep, thus as the days become short it causes people to feel more sluggish and tired. A lack of vitamin D has been found in people with SAD. Vitamin D is said to be part of the production of serotonin — which regulates mood.

Those who have familial history with depression or live significantly farther north or south of the equator are at a higher risk for SAD.

If a person is to be properly diagnosed with SAD, they must meet the criteria for major depression that links with the seasons for at least two years and they must also feel the seasonal depression more frequently than they would off-season.

The symptoms of SAD include often match up with the symptoms of major depression and include feelings of hopelessness, sadness, oversleeping, change in appetite, weight gain, loss of energy, fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in social life/activity and even thoughts of suicide.

Treatment for SAD runs the gamut from medication, self-care, taking vitamin D and light therapy.

Light therapy is the process of wearing a device much like a hat on the head that shines light onto the person for 30 to 60 minutes daily. Self regulating your care includes taking advantage of the daytime with outdoor activities, actively working on a positive outlook regarding winter and not putting off getting help when you need it.

Information for this article was found at