Winter is in full force. The days are short and the nights are cold. And now, as if it is not depressing enough, a “historic” snowstorm is coming! No wonder a lot of us in New England suffer from “winter blues”, a mild form of depression commonly experienced during the winter months and characterized by lack of motivation, tiredness, and low energy.
Is there a way to avoid winter blues completely? Let’s be realistic: short of moving to sunny Florida, probably not. Same as with a common cold, we just have to leave though it. Here’s our advice on how to make your winter blues pass easier.
- Don’t make it worse by getting sick. Colds and flu usually spike during the winter months. Keep your defenses up by regularly washing your hands, staying hydrated, and eating plenty of vitamin-rich food such as fruits and vegetables. Talk with your doctor about getting a flu shot.
- Don’t break you back shoveling. No doubt, getting your car from under the snow is necessary and a robust physical exercise is normally a good thing. Yet after every snow storm emergency rooms fill up with folks who greatly overestimated their strength and stamina shoveling their driveways and sidewalks.
- Don’t overindulge on comfort food. Now that the snow day is officially declared and you are legitimately confined indoors, what could be more tempting than a good helping of pancakes? Go for it. But do it moderation. Those extra pounds that you picked in February will haunt you in April (and you secretly know it…)
- Don’t skimp on light. There are strong indications that bright lights help manage winter blues. Turn on the lights as soon as you wake up and keep your home well lit until you go to bed.
- Don’t take it too seriously. No, we are not talking about effective preparedness, taking extra care driving or staying warm and hydrated – this is really important. But don’t sweat the small stuff: kids and pets tracking snow into the house, snow plows blocking the head of your driveway, brief power interruptions, delayed flights… all these small aggravations that the winter brings. Don’t let small nuisances spoil your mood!
- Don’t despair: the spring is coming. However cold it might be outside, the days are already getting longer and every snow storm that we have lived through is one snow storm less before April arrives!
Here’s a caveat, however. For most people, winter blues are mild and manageable. Yet for some, the seasonal feelings of withdrawal, sadness, extreme fatigue, inability to concentrate, increased need for sleep, and insatiable craving for carbs are symptoms of a mental dysfunction known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), one of the variations of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). It is a serious condition and cannot be left untreated. Fortunately, several medications already exist to treat the disorder and new promising medications are being developed by several pharma companies. If you experience one or several of the symptoms above, talk with your doctor without delay.
Boston Clinical Trials is conducting several studies of new investigational medications for depression. Qualified participants receive all medications and tests free of charge and additional compensation for time and travel. To learn more about us and the depression studies we conduct, please call (617) 477-4868 or fill out the form online.