If you have lately found yourself reaching for carbohydrate-rich foods, desiring more sleep/feeling fatigued or decreased levels of energy, you may be experiencing some symptoms of “Winter Blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to Web MD, people with SAD have many of the normal signs of depression.
Other symptoms may include:
- Desire to sleep more/Decreased levels of energy/Fatigue
- Overeating/ Increase in appetite
- Craving of sweets
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Withdrawing from social activities/Increased desire to be alone
- Feeling anxious
- Being unusually irritable
- Loss of desire for physical activity
Family caregivers are particularly at risk because both the emotional and physical demands of caregiving combined with prolonged stress. It is not the caregiving which causes depression, but according to the Family Caregiving Alliance (FCA), family caregivers are at a higher risk of neglecting self-care, regardless of age, income, race, etc.
Self-care inadequacies include:
- sleep deprivation
- poor eating habits
- failure to exercise
- failure to stay in bed when ill
- postponement of or failure to make medical appointments.
The FCA also reports that family caregivers are also at increased risk for excessive use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs as well as depression.
Some of the SAD indicators may contribute to other symptoms. For example, the overeating and loss of desire for physical activities cause weight gain. Also, withdrawing from social activities can make you feel lonely. The first thing to do is try to assess yourself:
— Are you simply tired because you are not sleeping enough?
— Are you withdrawing from activities because of the dropping temperatures or is it because of feelings of sadness, negativity, anxiousness and depression?
If you think you may be experiencing any SAD symptoms, please discuss these feelings with your Certified Health Practitioner. Your health professional is the best person to determine your level of need and seek appropriate treatment.
Here is an interactive tool to help you discover your risk for depression.
To help prevent the Winter Blues, become proactive. One of the largest contributors to winter seasonal depression is lack of light. Sit by a bright window or try to find access to natural light at least once per day. Watch what you eat. The sweets may temporarily give you a jolt of pleasure, but if they contribute to weight gain and headaches you will stay in the cycle of not feeling well. Set weight management and exercise goals. Something as simple as a walk outdoors, once per day could eliminate the symptoms. Do not neglect this part of your health as it factors into every faucet of your life.