Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter Blues

I have the blues
You have the blues
We all have the blues
That old winter blues

What are the blues - specifically the winter blues?

According to research studies, the winter blues is a form of depression that takes effect during the late fall through the winter season. In addition, studies show that 4 to 6% of the US population suffers from seasonal depression. Furthermore, 10-20% suffer from a mild case of winter blues. Interestingly,the majority of those who suffer from the winter blues are women ages 20-40 years old. However, the winter blues has also affected children and adolescents. So while many are happy for the white fluffy snow, planning ski trips, snowboarding or ice skating and all of the winter season activities, others are not so delighted. In fact, they may become depressed.

The culprit?

Although it is not known what is exactly responsible for the winter blues, there are many factors that are associated with the winter blues. One factor that is most common is the daylight change period. The lack of sunlight, not to mention the warmth that goes along with it, creates a lethargic, low level energy.

Melatonin is responsible for sleep and waking cycles. Serotonin has a broader role as it is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for mood, hunger, and sleep. Needless to say, as daylight savings ends the hours of sunlight decreases. it is at this point, the winter blues kicks in gear and the mood changes begin. It really takes it's toll on the way one who suffers of the winter blues respond to things. They do not want to socialize, they are tired and cannot wait to get home to relax. In fact, the winter blues may even affect the ability to concentrate.

Do I have the winter blues or do I just prefer to stay out of the cold?

Well, do you feel the need to hibernate - do you want to sleep and wake up in the springtime? Do you just prefer to be left alone until it's spring? Then most likely you are suffering from the winter blues.

Any Good News?

Here's the good news, there are various forms of therapies that may help you overcome the winter blues:

Light Therapy - normal light fixtures emits 250 to 500 lux on the other hand,light boxes emit high intensities of light of 2,500 to 10,000 lux and produce similar effects to the sun’s natural rays and as a result the mood is improved.

Sleep Strategies - get to bed early and wake up in time to enjoy the sunlight hours

Eating Plan - increase portions of complex carbohydrates, like pasta and rice, and healthy simple carbohydrates like fruits and fruit juices during meals, and avoid those unhealthy snacks. Unhealthy snacks are a quick fix of pleasure that will ultimately decrease your energy.

Burning Calories Plan - exercise it enhances your mood and boosts your energy

The Very Last Plan - Medication should be the very last resort and it should be administered by a health care professional who has evaluated your complaints. If it is determined that the other methods would not work for you - then this is the option.

Spring is on the way - hang on in there.

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