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Winter Blues

Winter Blues - The Feeling of Dismay
What are the winter blues?

    Looking out the window at the cold grey sky and the snow on the ground, you sense a feeling of sadness welling up inside of you. Letting out a sigh, you turn from the window and drop down in a chair. You have no desire or energy to do too much of anything. If you’re one of the thousands of people who feel this way when winter rolls around, you might be suffering from the winter blues.

The winter blues are a seasonal affective disorder whereby people of normal mental health throughout the rest of the year go through certain mood changes when the seasons change.

Winter Blues - The Symptoms
The classic symptoms of the winter blues are very similar in nature to those of other depressive mood disorders:

  • A change in sleep patterns -- sleeps too much or too little
  • Low energy levels
  • A craving for sweets and starchy foods
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Less activity
  • No pleasure in normally highly-anticipated activities
  • Feelings of confusion
  • Possible mood swings
In severe cases, feelings of suicide may arise.

Researches believe one possible cause of the winter blues is a depletion of serotonin, which is chemical in the brain responsible for mood regulation. The more serotonin you have, the happier you’re going to feel. In the winter months, when the days get shorter, the body secretes more protein in the brain, which soaks up this serotonin, causing a drop in mood and an onset of the winter blues.

Winter Blues - The Treatment
Treatment for the winter blues varies. Some people choose to moving to a warmer climate during the winter months. Others add extra lighting in the home to make up for the lack of light due to the Earth’s tilt away from the sun during the winter solstice.

Getting a dose of daily exercise helps to raise the serotonin levels in the brain, possibly reducing some of the effects of the winter blues.

Eat healthy food. Eat food that are naturally high in Vitamin D.

As with any treatment for any depressive disorder, it is best to consult a doctor before you take any course of action or embark on any kind of treatment. In most cases, the symptoms of the winter blues disappear with the onset of spring and warmer weather.

When we see signs that our winter blues may be turning into depression, what can we do? First, we need to accept it. Depression is a real problem -- a serious one. Second, we need to realize there is no shame associated with depression. Perhaps the only shame may be in not dealing with it, allowing it to continue affecting you and your loved ones. Third, realize that you are not alone. Other people struggle with similar problems and issues. Fourth, seek help when you recognize depression symptoms. Pastors, trained counselors, and doctors can offer guidance that may assist with some of the issues or anxieties life can bring.

There is a verse in the Bible that gives counsel to those struggling with depression. It says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6). God knows what you are going through and longs for you to talk to Him in prayer. You may have heard the expression, "Confession is good for the soul." It's true.

God offers protection of our thought life too. When dark, depressing thoughts crowd in on us, the Bible says: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things" (Philippians 4:8).

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