I have been feeling tired and unmotivated to do anything but watch Netflix. Seems like we had a glimpse of spring and then back to winter. It’s getting so old. I remember feeling like this last year, and my grades suffered as well as my relationships.
I have heard about this thing called SAD. How do I know if I have it? Any suggestions on how to keep me energized and happy during the rest of winter and the start of the rainy spring?
Got the Blues
SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it is a mood disorder that happens every year at about the same time. It is a form of depression and typically starts in the fall or winter and ends in the spring or early summer. Scientists have found that certain hormones in the brain trigger attitude-related changes, and in SAD, this hormone is serotonin. The theory says that the brain makes less serotonin, or “feel good” chemicals, when there is less sunlight. SAD usually starts in adulthood and can be seen in 10%-20% of people in the United States during the winter months. It is more common in women than in men.
Some symptoms of SAD include low energy, trouble concentrating, changes in appetite, desire to sleep more, weight gain, fatigue and increased desire to be alone. If you have been feeling depressed and have some of the above symptoms, see a counselor or doctor for an assessment.
Some ways to fight SAD are to exercise regularly and eat foods that are low in fat, sugar and carbohydrates. Making plans for the future can also help you get through the winter months because we all like having things to look forward to. Also, change up your surroundings. Consider moving things around your room or getting something new to brighten the place up.
A last recommendation to consider is light therapy. Light therapy uses a full-spectrum bright light on a regular basis to improve mood. Studies show that sitting under the light for 20-30 minutes up to five times a week can improve mood and motivation. And, you’re in luck! You don’t have to pay the $100+ to buy a light because we have one here at Loras College in Health/Counseling Services! It is good to check with your doctor before using the light on a regular basis, but feel free to contact Counseling Services if you are interested in using the one here on campus.