Winter Depression During a Pandemic
For some people, winter weather seems like a magical scene out of a movie. Yet for others winter depression is a hard reality of the chilly season.
When choosing where to settle down in life and deciding what place to call home, many factors come into play when picking a location.
For some living in an area of the country where it gets darker earlier in the day and the slushy, gloomy days seem to last forever is not ideal.
Some though want to be able to experience all four seasons throughout the year, and winter depression comes with the regions.
Winter depression is also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is how one is affected by light or lack thereof.
Many studies have shown that people with seasonal affective disorder feel better after exposure to bright light.
It seems simple enough: in higher latitudes, winter days are shorter, so you get less exposure to sunlight. Replace lost sunlight with bright artificial light, and your mood improves.
Yet it’s actually far more complex. It’s not only a matter of getting light; it is about the right time too. The most important time to get light is in the morning, supposedly.
Some symptoms of Winter Depression but are not limited to:
- Social Withdrawal
While some days seem better being that the sun is shining, the chilly fatigue can set in at any point in the day. Sometimes being awake for a short period of time is a struggle and your body just wants to rest.
For some individuals with autoimmune diseases fatigue only seems to intensify during the winter months. Rheumatoid Arthritis is just one example where the winter months seem to cause more pain and fatigue for the clients that we serve.
The more pain you feel the more fatigue you get being your body is over working to get through the day. When one bad day precedes the next, it might feel like a vicious cycle to get ahead of the tiredness and starting each day more tired than the next gets old.
Depression is something which can affect an individual throughout the year, regardless of the season. Many report that it intensifies to a winter depression in the colder months. Sunlight can do a world of wonders to the human body. The gloomy weather can affect a person’s mood from day to day.
One might be more active one day due to the sun being out, and the next cloudy day could cause an individual to withdraw from wanting to do anything other than stay in bed. Hopelessness plays into depression, and one can lose faith things will get better.
Personally, it seems the colder the temperature gets and the earlier in the day the sun sets, some of my high motivation can get lost. I might have great plans to accomplish something after work. Yet by the time I get home, I may lose my excess energy.
I am tender with myself, and I do not crawl into bed before 8pm, no matter how tired. Also I will not stay in bed past 11am ever. Sometimes, this can be a vicious cycle of going to bed early and waking up late.
Social withdrawal is another battle in itself during the winter let alone during a pandemic.
We have been cooped up for months on end and when we eventually go out for a night, we just want to retreat to the house. Sometimes, we do not want to deal with the conversations of people we meet or just not feeling up to socializing.
Most nights even maintaining relationships via phone or texting can seem to be a struggle, especially while in a winter depression episode.
Even though there are plenty of hours in a day to reach out, it seems like it is a huge burden or like climbing a mountain some nights to pick up the phone and check in on someone.
One thing that I have learned is that winter depression does not affect everyone the same.
Some have mild cases where they can still carry on with day-to-day activities, where others need to seek extra therapy. There is no right or wrong answer to how to cope with winter depression.
I prefer to give myself one day to relax or simply “do nothing” for others. Whether I read a book, spend all day in bed on a Sunday, or decide to order take in on a weeknight, self-care is important to stay healthy.
What methods do you prefer:
- Going for a walk?
- Seeing your favorite therapist weekly?
- Doing a puzzle?
- Moving your body?
Winter can be beautiful in many aspects. Just make sure that you seek help if your winter depression consumes you. If you feel it is too much, remember you are not alone.
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