Winter Blues can be sub-clinical depression or may be a Major Depression Disorder known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Winter Blues and SAD can be linked directly to our exposure to sunlight, or in this case lack of
This winter we have seen colder days, higher than normal snow levels and more clouds. These weather results may reduce our body’s exposure to sunlight by increasing our time indoors and reducing exposure when outdoors.
Why is sunlight important to our bodies?
We know that sunlight impacts many aspects of the physiology in the body. With reduced sunlight we have a delay in our circadian rhythm (our body’s internal clock). This natural clock tells us when to awake and when to sleep. The need for sunlight also impacts an important brain chemical – called Serotonin. Serotonin levels are one of the three important brain chemicals which affect mood. Reduced sunlight reduces serotonin levels- there by reducing our positive mood.
Melatonin, which is a natural hormone that plays a role in the sleep pattern, also is impacted by our exposure to light. Significant dim light and darkness can increase Melatonin levels which cause us to be sleepy or “depressed” during the day.
Interesting facts about the Winter Blues
- Seasonal affective disorder increases in occurrence as we go further away from the equator. In Florida during the winter months approximately 1% of the population experiences SAD, while in the Northeast and Alaska rates are as high as 10%.
- Subclinical depression (Doldrums / Winter Blues) impacts about 25% of the population in areas where seasonal change is significant.
- SAD can occur during the warmer months for some, but the symptoms are different.
What can you do to reduce the impact of the Winter Blues?
- Gain exposure to sunlight by either spending 20 -30 minutes outside twice per week or to use an artificial light source. Many companies offer “light boxes” which provide full spectrum light. Do your research and follow the manufacturer’s instruction.
- Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important in the production of Serotonin. It is recommended to see your physician to have your Vitamin D level tested and adjusted as appropriate.
- Socially interaction is important. Schedule time with friends to go out, watch TV, play cards, or go see a movie. Do not allow yourself to spend all your time alone without some social activities.
- Hydrate– Drink plenty of liquids. Your body still uses and loses fluids during the winter months.
- Eliminate Alcohol – Alcohol is a depressant and causes dehydration (also eliminate and self-medicating drugs.)
- Be physically active – Schedule time to exercise or some physical activity. Physical activity activates feel-good chemicals in the body
Lastly- if you find your symptoms are clearly of a more clinical nature- seek the help of a health care professional. Depression is a real illness with many resources to get you well.
You Can Also View Dr. Manevitz on the Today Show Dr. Alan Manevitz discusses Seasonal Affective Disorder, Winter Blahs and Winter Blues with Katie Couric on NBC’s Today Show.
About Dr. Alan Manevitz
Dr. Manevitz is recognized nationally for his clinical skills and excellence in helping patients who are not receiving full benefit of current treatments. He is often consulted by colleagues for illnesses difficult to diagnose and new treatment approaches for treatment resistant disease. He and his colleague, James Halper M.D., are recognized by patients and colleagues as one of the most internationally experienced clinical providers of TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation).
Dr. Manevitz has been named amongst the “Top Doctors in America” by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., “Top Doctors: New York Metro Area”, “Top Doctors on Long Island” New York Time’s “Super Doctors”, “New York Magazine’s Best Doctors”, Vital Sign’s “Best Physician”, and “Best Doctors of America”. Click Here for Dr. Alan Manevitz Full Biography.
About TMS Therapy®
TMS Therapy is a non-systemic (does not circulate throughout the body) and non-invasive (does not involve surgery) form of neuromodulation. It stimulates nerve cells in an area of the brain that has been linked to depression by delivering highly- focused MRI-strength magnetic field pulses. The TMS Medical Associates of NY has presented personal clinical data of their first 100 patients. Results reveal a 90 percent response rate and 71% remission rate. The treatment is typically administered daily for 4-6 weeks. TMS Therapy is available by prescription only. There is a rare risk of seizure associated with TMS (0.1% per acute treatment course). For full safety and prescribing information, visit www.NeuroStar.com and www.TMSproviders.com.
About TMS Medical Associates of NY
TMS Medical Associates of New York was established as the first Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation clinical practice in New York City by doctors Alan Manevitz and James Halper. Their vision and expertise has gained national and international recognition for their leadership in providing innovative treatment approaches for depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD and other mental health conditions.
Alan Manevitz, MD and James Halper, MD regularly publish clinical success results in leading forums including the American Psychiatric Association and the Clinical TMS Society. Recent data presented by TMS Medical Associates of NY demonstrated a 71% remission rate (no symptoms) in patients who had not received full relief with numerous antidepressant medications. Clinical results can be reviewed by visiting tmsproviders.com.
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