When it’s cold outside, the desire to curl up on the couch and take it easy is very tempting. Especially if you’re like me and had a hectic holiday schedule. But for anyone that deals with winter depression, it’s best you avoid vegging out and instead take action.
First – if your mood is getting darker, you’re feeling depressed, fatigued, have trouble getting out of bed in the morning or are withdrawing socially – you should talk with your doctor. Your symptoms will be evaluated and a treatment plan will be tailored just for you. This may include light therapy, antidepressant medication, talk therapy, and melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone and appears to have an important relationship with your sleep-wake cycle. Research has shown that a low dose taken at a specific time of day can help provide relief from winter depression. The timing and dosage amount should only be prescribed by a doctor familiar with this research.
As many as 11 million Americans are affected with winter depression. If you or a loved one is one of them, here are my prescriptions:
1. Get as much bright light in your day as possible
Go outside when it’s sunny and also consider using a light box.
2. If you try light therapy, use a 10,000 lux light box for 30-45 minutes.
Typically the best time is when you wake up, but for some people the evening works better.
3. Keep moving – take part in exercise most days of the week
You can increase positive feelings and decrease negative ones just by exercising at any intensity.
4. If you crave carbs, be sure to choose whole grain foods and starchy vegetables like potatoes
Sweets and simple carbs provide energy, but it’s short-lived and can lead to weight gain.
The first step to feeling better is recognizing that you are affected with winter depression. If you take steps early on, you may prevent this seasonal depression from getting worse…and potentially enjoy a more pleasant and productive winter.
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