By Cynthia Hovis, MSW, LCSW
Are you experiencing the “winter blues?” It could be seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mood disorder related to the change in seasons and lack of exposure to daylight. SAD is a rare example of a psychiatric disorder with a clear, identifiable biological cause.
Symptoms of SAD include increased appetite including carbohydrate cravings, increased sleep, weight gain, irritability, heavy-feeling arms or legs and interpersonal difficulties.
The treatment for SAD can include light therapy, medication and counseling/psychotherapy. Cognitive behavior therapy has been effective in helping some clients determine ways to change their thought and behavior patterns to enhance their mood and energy levels.
The take-away for all is that cold weather, less light and the stress of the holiday seasons can have a negative effect on how we feel -- physically, mentally and emotionally. Now is the time to focus on a healthy balance by:
- Stay connected to friends and family
- Participate in fun activities
- Eliminate commitments that are more stressful than rewarding
- Eat healthy and drink plenty of water
- Get regular exercise, or at least add in daily movement if not a full workout
- Take in a much natural light as possible
If you have concerns about your health, your first step is always to check in with your primary care physician or contact BJC EAP.