In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me, there lay an invincible summer.

Albert Camus

By Amy Offenberg on Nov 06, 2014 Summer is over. We are back to our routines. All work. No play. The weather is cold and getting colder. It is always dark. I dread this time of year and find that many people feel just like I do. My energy gets lower and lower. I find it hard to motivate myself. In the morning, I want to stay in bed and sleep.

At one time in my life, I just knew that I needed to leave the Northeast and head to the sun. This was my answer to beating the change of season, the cure for winter blues. I got on a plane with my cousin and we left for sunny Los Angeles. No jobs, no place to stay, no support of friends and family but full of optimism and youth. Well, our best laid plans included a lot of beach time and little work and we had to head back home. How would I ever survive the return of the winter blues? I dreaded the thought of another winter.

Seasonal Affective Disorder ( SAD ) is a type of depression that happens most commonly in the fall and winter seasons. It is often what people think of as the winter blues or winter depression. As the days grow shorter and the amount of light lessens, there is a disruption in our body’s internal clock. This leads to a lack of energy, irritability, a desire for more sleep, weight gain and the craving of comfort foods, rich in carbohydrates. As I learned more about SAD, I knew that this was exactly what I was going through when the season’s changed. Now I know that there are certain things that I can do to help my symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Some of the ways that you can improve your symptoms are to keep your personal space bright and light. Exposure to light, or lack of it is what triggers SAD symptoms, so even though winter can be very cold, go outside. Make sure to take advantage of enjoying the light that we do have when our days seem short. And finally, exercise, exercise, exercise. Exercise produces natural endorphins which help to elevate our mood when we feel down. A very healthy way to raise your spirits.

Remember, it is normal to feel sad sometimes or to have days that you feel down. If you find that you just can’t motivate yourself, have feelings of extreme hopelessness, suicidal thoughts or an increase in your use of drugs and alcohol to feel better, this probably is not Seasonal Affective Disorder. These symptoms are much more serious, so check with your primary care provider or a mental health professional to talk about your symptoms.