Why Do I Feel Sad During the Winter?

December 28, 2023

Why Do I Feel Sad When It Gets Cold Outside?

Get More Vitamin D this Winter to Tackle Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Have you ever heard someone say that they get seasonal depression in the winter? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real condition, commonly referred to as seasonal depression. It strikes during the winter, because colder and shorter days prevent us from getting our daily sunshine intake. Indian Trail has plenty of spots to go outdoors this winter like the Crooked Creek Park or take a trip to nearby amusement park Carowinds with outdoor activities for the whole family. Sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D, which our bodies need healthy amounts of to maintain health. Follow this simple guide for understanding SAD, how it can affect you, and ways to combat it.

Do I Have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

SAD is directly correlated with a lack of sunlight. If you experience the following symptoms, it’s time to take action.

  • Lack of energy and always feeling tired
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased cravings for unhealthy foods
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Disinterest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Irregular sleep: either too much or too little sleep

These signs may also signify depression not exclusively caused by SAD. Depression is serious and should be addressed quickly. If you are experiencing depressive symptoms, reach out to a healthcare professional about treatment. If you are experiencing more severe symptoms such as suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

How Sunlight Affects your Hormones

Have you ever wondered why it’s hard to go to sleep if you have been scrolling on your phone or watching TV before bedtime? It’s because light directly impacts our internal clocks, which affects our hormone levels. When hormones such as melatonin and serotonin are thrown off, it can dramatically affect our moods and overall health.

Melatonin makes us sleepy when it gets dark. Exposure to light at night can stop melatonin production, disrupting our sleep cycles. Serotonin affects many bodily functions including memory, digestion, sleep, and mood. Exposure to sunlight allows our brain to release serotonin. Understanding how sunlight impacts these hormones can help you take steps to feel better.

Vitamin D is created when sunlight touches the skin’s surface and transforms the cholesterol in our skin cells. When our bodies do not get enough Vitamin D, depressive symptoms can occur.

Boost Vitamin D Levels and Prevent SAD

The best approach is to prevent SAD before symptoms occur and begin to affect your day-to-day life. Here are a few ideas for boosting your Vitamin D intake. Spend 15-30 minutes outside every day. Even if the weather is chilly, prioritize exposure to sunlight. Go for a run, take a hike, or walk your dog while the sun is shining. You can also incorporate vitamin-D-rich foods into your diet:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Mushrooms

Light Therapy and Vitamin D Supplements

Consider alternative treatments if you are unable to spend time outdoors or have dietary restrictions. A couple options to consider include:

  • Light therapy: This treatment uses a light box to mimic natural sunlight and will expose you to intense light upon waking up. Light therapy is shown to improve mood and sleep.
  • Vitamin-D supplements: over-the-counter supplements are easy to find and incorporate into your daily routine. Always ready the instructions and warning labels on supplements before ingesting.

Light therapy and supplements are not for everyone, but they are options to consider under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Before investing in alternative treatments, consult with your doctor.

Overcome SAD Symptoms with Self-Care

Practicing self-care is essential when tackling SAD symptoms. Taking care of yourself is easy to put on the back burner, but it could be the difference maker in feeling mentally and physically well each day. Engage in activities and hobbies that you enjoy, spend time with friends and family, eat nutritious foods, drink plenty of water, and get regular exercise.

By boosting your Vitamin D intake and practicing self-care you could relieve depressive symptoms or avoid SAD altogether. Take simple steps to tackle SAD like getting outside and eating vitamin-D-rich foods. Consider alternative treatments if needed, while keeping in mind daily routines that promote well-being. If you need guidance on maintaining sufficient Vitamin D levels or managing SAD during the winter, our team at AFC Urgent Care Indian Trail is available and prepared to support you.

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