To the dismay of most of the country, winter has made an early appearance this year. With blankets of snow covering Minnesota and temperatures well below average right here in Tennessee, it may be disheartening to realize that we still have roughly a month before the calendar even marks winter’s arrival.
For some, this extended period of arctic air can be more than just a slight disappointment. Weather influences our mood significantly, and for most individuals the winter months carry with it a greater risk of depression. Many women suffer from increased sadness, fatigue and irritability when the weather turns cold and the days get shorter. This wintertime change is often referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder, a very real mental health disorder that can affect the way we think, feel and behave.
Much of the time women may notice the physical changes of SAD first. Feeling chronically tired and excessive body aches are common signs of beginning seasonal depression and will likely be followed by the traditional changes in mood that are associated with depression. This emotional distress may become overwhelming, provoking women to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs; therefore SAD should not go neglected.
Treatment for SAD is much like that for major depression and other mood disorders, focusing on a balance of psychotherapy and if necessary, medication management. Brookhaven Retreat teaches women the skills to manage their emotional stress and minimize the effects of this disorder. Women learn the importance of continuing the same healthy habits that are nurtured during the warm summer days, including exercise, nutritious eating, spending time with loved ones and doing things you enjoy.
Nearly 14 percent of the US population struggle with winter blues and an additional 6 percent experience the more serious mood changes associated with SAD. Although winter has shown up early, and will probably overstay its welcome, we can take preventive measures to avoid feeling helpless and overwhelmed by the affects of seasonal affective disorder. If you notice a shift in your mood that begins and ends with the season change, therapy, healthy habits and medication management can help you break-free of seasonal affective disorder and find joy and satisfaction year round.