The Effects of Winter on Mental Health



Has the colder season made you feel less like yourself? Does everything feel gloomier and difficult to manage? This may be due to the fact that the colder seasons can promote the onset of mental health issues such as seasonal depression, major depressive disorder, and anxiety disorder. It is said that, The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. The winter season is known for daylight saving, which is correlated with reduced sunlight, potentially causing a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression. Those with major depressive disorder may experience a worsened version of their symptoms. The cold weather as well as the darkness in the winter seasons can cause people to avoid activities that were once fulfilling for them, such as exercising, seeing friends, outdoor activities, or any activity that would require one to leave their home. Staying indoors for prolonged periods can exacerbate existing depressive symptoms into suicidal ideation if left untreated for an extended amount of time.

Vitamin D deficiency is a key contributing factor to the onset of seasonal depression and sometimes major depressive disorder. Without substantial sunlight, the lack of Vitamin D can greatly affect a person’s s


leeping patterns as well as overall mood. With all that being said, it is crucial to actively utilize resources to mitigate the onset of seasonal depression and mood shifts during the winter season.

It is recommended that those with major depressive disorder should continue to seek therapy to use healthy coping techniques during the winter season. Light therapy, physical exercise, meditation, reading, writing, andaromatherapy are all different ways a person can try to combat the negative effects of the winter season. Light therapy aims to use things like sun lamps, and light boxes to stimulate cells in the retina and work to regulate our natural circadian rhythm. Physical exercise is an effective way to release dopamine and serotonin within the body, which helps people to feel better. Meditation helps you stay centered, when practiced on a regular basis, it works to allow thoughts and feelings to pass through rather than consume you. Reading and writing allows people to express themselves without distraction or judgement. It can be used as a form of stress relief and self-expression, especially during times when seasonal depression and/or major depressive disorder may feel like it has an identity of its own.

Lastly, aromatherapy can be beneficial when used with smells that bring comfort to an individual. Scents like lavender are said to promote happiness and relaxation. Physical sensations such as scent are too often overlooked in terms of beneficial qualities. Associating a favorite scent to when you are feeling happy can also help remind an individual that they can return to that feeling of happiness and that the feeling of sadness is temporary along with the darkness and cold nature of the winter season.



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