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Sounds Like A Case of The “Winter Blues”

It’s that time of year again: the constant snow and cold is getting old. The sun hasn’t been out in days, and we are still waking up to dark skies. It’s hard to be in a good mood when the environment around us is sad. If you’re not feeling like yourself, lack energy and spunk, you’re not alone.

The “winter blues” is really sad. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or “seasonal depression” is “a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year”. According to Mental Health America, 4 out of 5 individuals who suffer from seasonal depression are women. Some of the characteristics of SAD include, but aren’t limited to: depression, anxiety, increased appetite (specifically for carbs, go figure!), mood swings, irritability, sleep problems (lack of or lethargy), and decreased desire for social interaction.Why is SAD a thing? During the winter months, the days are shorter and darker. There’s less sunlight, and therefore, less serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that affects mood in both the brain and the body. Also, our bodies may produce increased levels of melatonin (a sleep-related hormone) in the dark. More obvious reasons could be participating in less outdoor activities due to the weather.

It’s time to combat SAD and start feeling better! When you’re in your dorm room or apartment, be sure to have as much available light as possible. You can begin to trick your brain into thinking the sun is back out (yeah, right!), increasing alertness, attentiveness, and focus. Also, try to get some exercise. Physical activity releases endorphins, neurotransmitters to the brain and nervous system that “block pain and control emotion” (Science| HowStuffWorks). Endorphins have been known to boost your mood and help you sleep better. Lastly, take some Vitamin D or drink some milk! Your body is probably lacking Vitamin D right now because we usually absorb it from the sun’s UV rays. In addition to being good for bone health and the immune system, Vitamin D also boosts serotonin.

Don’t worry ladies, Spring is right around the corner!

Carlie is a sophomore American Studies major and Economics minor at SUNY Oswego in Central New York. She writes for fun, but would love the opportunity to have it as a career. She also enjoys reading, food, music, running, and anything that will make her laugh. Follow her on Instagram: @carlieevans3
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