Beat Winter Depression and Enjoy Your Life

Where: Albury Entertainment Centre, 525 Swift Street, Albury, Murray Region

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

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Listed by: evanswick

Winter Depression and the Holiday Season

I used to wish that I could close my eyes on the day before Thanksgiving and open them again somewhere in the middle of January. That's how much I dreaded the "holiday season". For years it seemed to me that I was the only one who wasn't really loving all the holiday hoopla. My energy seemed to disappear as autumn turned to winter, and my mood often turned dark too.

I felt anxious and overwhelmed. I used to describe it as feeling like I was walking through glue. I was fatigued, sleeping badly and eating everything that wasn't nailed down while other people seemed to be having a great time shopping, working, partying, singing and giving, I felt ashamed because it seemed to me I was either trying not to burst into tears or fall asleep and was just wishing it would all be over.

A Little History of SAD
Since ancient times, people in the Northern Hemisphere have known that winter brought on a decrease in energy and increased the desire to sleep in humans. The ancient man understood that this winter lack of energy was related to the increased cold and darkness of winter. He knew that the sun controlled life, that it wanted in winter and waxed in summer, but that was about all he knew. In some ways, knowledge has not progressed much since then.

While most people experience a slowing down when it is cold and dark outside, some people have symptoms which really interfere with life. This is called SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)and while it is known that the condition is tied to the body's response to lack of sunlight and changes in brain chemistry, exactly how this works remains a matter of guesswork. It is thought that the lack of light affects the production of the brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine, but just how is not clear.

Medical science estimated that, in the United States, approximately 5% of the adult population suffers from SAD with another 20% having some symptoms. There are no diagnostic tests for SAD but symptoms include fatigue, depression, body aches, poor sleep, decreased activity, and sex drive, weight gain, irritability, and trouble concentrating. The condition is also four times more common in women than in men with the average age of onset being 23.

Treatment Not Cure
Not only are there no diagnostic tests for SAD, because nobody is exactly sure what causes it, there is also no cure. The good news is, however, that there are a number of treatments, some medicinal and some involving minor changes in lifestyle, which really do work. Everybody is a little different and what worked for me may do nothing for you, but all of these alleviate symptoms in some people and are worth a try. Here's a list with some notes on my personal experience. Please know that you are not just weak-willed.

There is a physiological as well as a psychological basis for your winter blues and treatment really can help. It goes without saying that if you are totally incapacitated or feeling in any way that life is truly not worth living, you need immediate medical intervention not self-help. Contact your doctor or in a pinch just show up at the emergency room door of your local hospital.

Being With People
The Holiday Blues are not entirely about nutrition and vitamins. Brain chemistry is also affected by another component—connection. Connection with other people makes a big difference, particularly at this time of year. There seems to be a connection between social life and the production of happy hormones in the brain.

We need our fellow human beings every bit as much as we need sunlight and vitamins. Thus, when it is dark and cold outside and you are feeling tired and blue, this is exactly the time to be with people even though you may not want to. Shut down the computer. Go to the holiday parties, volunteer to help the needy, catch up with far away friends and family. It will all help your mood and you might make yourself useful at the same time.