Heartland Behavioral Health Services- Winter Blues Pt. 1- February 4, 2014

By Alan Matthews

Published 02/04 2014 09:36AM

Updated 02/04 2014 09:44AM

Winter is in full force,the excitement and joy from the holidays are over….Leaving us to face the winter months with little to look forward to. 

PART 1-Where do these Blah’s come from?

The "winter blues and Blahs" are characterized by sadness, lack of motivation, and low energy that many people experience during this cold season. 

But about 11 million Americans have a more severe form of winter depression -- seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that is typically diagnosed after at least two consecutive years of more intense symptoms. While a person with winter Blah’s may have difficulty waking up or getting out of bed at times, someone with seasonal affective disorder can't get to work on time," In these cases, when everyday activities are no longer completed and day to day functioning is impacted, it is important that professional staff are involved in the treatment process.

The gloom caused by Mother Nature each winter in much of the country is biologically felt to some degree by an estimated one in four of us -- usually starting around October and then magically ending by April with spring's thaw.

For most people, the winter blah’s consist of the "I-can't-wait-for-winter-to-end" feeling, causing folks to feel anxious awaiting those spring months.

Due to the days being shorter, the nights being longer and colder and we have a tendency to feel sluggish.  Many folks go into work seeing very little daylight and when they leave it is already dark-this has a significant impact on our mood.

Unfortunately, we spend more time indoors and are less active.  We tend to be more sedentary, which we know impacts our level of energy and our interest in activities.

Cold winter months also impact our food cravings-Our eating habits can contribute to our sinking mood and energy levels. We tend to eat warmer, heartier meals because that’s part of our evolutionary survival strategy for staying protected through the winter months.  This can lead to a common 5-6 pound weight gain during the winter months.

Eating more sugary foods – which is common from Halloween to New Year’s – also spikes glucose levels, leading to a crash of exhaustion

Our circadian rhythm is essentially an internal body clock. It regulates our body with respect to sleeping, feeding and well-being.   Circadian rhythms respond to sunlight. With less sun exposure in the fall and winter, many people experience a shift in their circadian rhythm=an impact on sleep and energy levels

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