by Dr. Diana Samardzic

You may be someone who notices that your mood changes when fall or winter approaches. Or maybe you have seen others around you withdraw or seem more down during the colder months of the year. This is a natural response to the decrease in sunlight during the day.

What Causes The Winter Blues?

Although scientists don’t completely understand this phenomenon, they suspect that it has something to do with the reduction of the brain chemical serotonin, which helps regulate mood, as well as a deficit in vitamin D. Sunlight works to both control serotonin levels and replenish levels of vitamin D. In addition, those who struggle with this issue were found to have increased levels of melatonin, a hormone that helps to maintain the normal sleep-wake cycle and causes sleepiness.

Winter Blues vs. Major Depressive Disorder With Seasonal Pattern

Some people may find that their mood changes are more serious, negatively impacting their daily life and getting in the way of their ability to function. Formally known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, these symptoms are now classified as a Major Depressive Disorder With Seasonal Pattern. In addition to depressive symptoms, you may experience:
Oversleeping (hypersomnia), Overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates, Weight gain, Social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”)

Some treatments that have been found to be effective for this set of particular symptoms are:

  • Light therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Antidepressant medications
  • Vitamin D

(National Institute of Mental Health)

If you are interested in starting depression therapy so you can learn about how your particular system reacts to seasonal change, please feel free to contact us.

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