January 24, 2013- Don’t let the winter blues get you down
DETROIT – Each winter, many people experience a degree of depression or loneliness, commonly referred to as the winter blues, but in its more serious state it's medically known Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Symptoms of SAD can include feeling a sense of hopelessness, increased appetite and weight gain, increased sleep, a lack of energy and an inability to concentrate. Although there is no official test for SAD, a doctor can diagnose the disorder through the symptoms the patient has experienced.
Experiencing these symptoms isn't uncommon during the winter months, and it’s actually in our nature historically to respond to the season in such a way.
“Most of us think that it's normal to get down during the winter months because the days are short, dreary and cold, but there is a biological reason for these feelings,” said Gerald A. Shiener, M.D., Chief Consultation Liaison of Psychiatry at DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital. “Our genetic ancestors used to gain weight and hibernate during winter months. For some of us, those biological urges persist.”
The good news is there are steps one can take during the winter months to help minimize or even prevent feeling the winter blues.
“The best way to deal with seasonal mood disorders is to manage our lifestyle and take better care of ourselves,” Shiener said. “Regular bedtime and wake-up times are important. A low carbohydrate, high-protein diet, exercise and physical activity can enhance energy levels and sense of well being.”
If you suspect a loved one is suffering from SAD, there are many ways to help. Encourage them to be active, invite them to social gatherings, and offer assistance with daily tasks. If you have a serious concern, enourage them to see a doctor.
To book an appointment with a Sinai-Grace physician, call (313) 966-4800.