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6 Ways to Combat Seasonal Depression

young woman with seasonal depression staring out window at snow-covered landscape
February 12, 2024

Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that comes with a change in season. For most people, seasonal depression begins in late fall or early winter and lasts until spring. If you experience the “winter blues” each year, you may have seasonal depression. The good news is there are effective treatments and things you can do so you don’t have to suffer all season long. Here are some ways to combat seasonal depression that may help.

1. Get Some Sun

woman enjoying the sun on a winter day

While scientists don’t fully understand the causes of seasonal depression, they have found a link to a chemical imbalance that may be caused by shorter days and fewer hours of sunlight in winter. As the days get shorter, your biological clock shifts, which can mess with your daily schedule. Less sunlight also means less vitamin D, which may be linked to depression. To combat all of this, try to spend at least a few minutes in the sun every day. If you can’t spend time outside, sit near a window to get some natural sunlight.

2. Connect with Others

Personal connection can go a long way toward improving symptoms of seasonal depression. Talk with someone you can trust about your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Make an effort to see people in person to get a mood boost. If you can’t meet up in person, use video chats and other platforms to stay in touch and talk to your family and friends regularly.

3. Move Your Body

senior woman stretching at home

It’s no secret that exercise is great for your physical health, but it’s also beneficial for your mental health. Exercise can help relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase symptoms of depression. If you suffer from seasonal depression, exercise can also boost your mood by releasing feel-good chemicals and helping you sleep better at night.

4. Practice Meditation

Research suggests that seasonal depression may be connected to the pineal gland, which is linked to sleep patterns. Meditation can stimulate the pineal gland to provide relief for sleep disorders, including those caused by interruptions in your biological clock during winter. Other helpful mindfulness techniques may include yoga, journaling, and deep breathing.

5. Eat a Healthy Diet

assortment of healthy foods

As the weather gets colder, it becomes more common to crave carbohydrates that increase serotonin levels and make us feel happier. Though carbohydrates can provide a quick pick-me-up, these foods eventually cause a decline in mood. They also deplete your body’s stores of vitamins and minerals, which can lead to worsened mental health symptoms. If you suffer from seasonal depression, try replacing simple carbohydrates like cookies, crackers, and bread with complex carbohydrates, vegetables, and nuts.

6. Maintain Routines

The primary cause of seasonal depression is thought to be changes in the body’s biological clock, also known as circadian rhythm. Even though the hours of daylight have changed, it’s important to stick to a regular routine to minimize the effects on your mental health. Try going to bed, waking up, eating, and exercising on a regular schedule to help relieve symptoms of seasonal depression.

Ask a Pharmacist About Treating Seasonal Depression

If you struggle with seasonal depression, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are lots of resources available to help you find relief from your symptoms. In addition to the above tips for managing seasonal depression, there are also supplements and medications that can help relieve your symptoms. If you have questions about supplements, medications, or techniques for managing seasonal depression, please reach out to us and our knowledgeable pharmacy team will be happy to provide the advice you need!