Seasonal Affective Disorder: How to Beat the Winter Blues


If you’re anything like us, then you feel like winter came to the Northeast much too abruptly this year. Snow before Thanksgiving, and daily temperatures hovering in the 30s—what happened to those long, lingering autumn days we used to be able to enjoy well into November?

Maybe it is time to pull our puffy coats out of the attic, wrap ourselves snugly in scarves, and stock up on hot cocoa so no snow day will find us unprepared. But maybe it’s also time to keep an eye out for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that is closely-related to the change of seasons, namely the fall-to-winter seasons. SAD can leave you feeling drained of energy and irritable. And as easy as it is to write off these symptoms as nothing more than the “winter blues,” they may indicate a more serious psychiatric condition.

The symptoms of SAD are very similar to those of severe or major depression, and include:

• Feelings of deep sadness; loss of hope
• No interest in your favorite hobbies or activities
• Fatigue, or energy levels much lower than usual
• Changes to your sleeping patterns; sleeping too much or too little
• Changes to your appetite; eating too much or too little
• Inability to concentrate

Fortunately, there are several effective treatments for seasonal affective disorder, such phototherapy, ketamine infusions, antidepressant medications, and psychotherapy. Of course, keeping your mood even-keeled throughout the entire year can prevent SAD from striking in the first place. Here are 5 proven strategies for boosting your mood, year-round:

1. Bathe in natural light. If possible, move your workspace closer to a window, or underneath a skylight. Allow as much natural sunlight into your office or home as possible.

2. Spend time outside. Yes, we know it’s cold…but there is no better cure for SAD than real, direct, natural, unfiltered sunlight. Even on a cloudy day, direct sunlight is more powerful than filtered sunshine on a clear day. A great way to get outside and increase your body’s endorphin production is by committing to a lunchtime walk.

3. Get moving. Exercise is a natural mood booster. It allows the brain to create feel-good hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine. Try to exercise for 30-minutes every day, whether that means hitting the gym, going for a jog, or heading to the slopes for the weekend!

4. Keep your vitamin D levels high. There is a connection between SAD and vitamin D depletion, though it’s not as simple as taking a vitamin D supplement and calling it a day. Vitamin D cannot be 100% absorbed from your diet—the only way to replenish your body’s stores is by getting plenty of sunlight every day!

5. Get away! Sometimes, the winter is just too much. Sneak away for a warm weather getaway. Check out websites like Groupon and Living Social—you may just find a last-minute, affordable getaway to a warm, sunny, tropical paradise.

Living in the Northeast, we’re lucky to have so many cold-weather activity options available to us: skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, ice skating, etc. Invest in a warm coat and a merino wool base layer and you’ll have no excuse to stay holed up inside all winter!

ketamine for depression

Contact Ketamine Greater Boston

If you or a loved one is having trouble with seasonal affective disorder or clinical depression, we may be able to help. Our ketamine clinic treats patients in the greater Boston area with ketamine infusions, which are proven to effectively reduce the symptoms of depression in up to 70% of patients. Contact us using the brief form below and a member of our highly experienced clinical team will be in touch to answer your questions, address your concerns and point you in the right direction!

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