While the winter season usually begins with some holiday cheer, many people feel a bit "off" as the days become shorter and the temperatures drop. Maybe you're already familiar with the "winter blues," or you know a close friend or family member who experiences mental health concerns, like a lower mood or increased fatigue, around the holidays.
Sometimes, people experience mental health issues while adjusting to seasonal changes, like shorter days. Meanwhile, other people might experience more serious mental health problems that affect their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression, is a mental health condition that occurs due to seasonal changes, with most people experiencing SAD in the early fall or winter. Seasonal shifts, along with other factors—including your genetics and body chemistry—may affect your mental health.
The symptoms of depression can arise during any season, and depression can affect everyone differently. Some common symptoms of SAD include:
If you're experiencing the symptoms of depression every day, or having thoughts of harming yourself, it's essential to seek mental health treatment from a licensed psychologist or counselor.
Research shows that talk therapy (psychotherapy) techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are effective treatments for depression. Working with a mental health professional can help you learn healthy ways to cope with SAD, navigate your mental health concerns, and start feeling better.
If you tend to experience a lower mood during the winter season, it's important to pay extra attention to your physical and mental health. While it's easy to fall into unhealthy behaviors around the holidays, finding healthy ways to relieve stress and build resilience can make all the difference in your mental wellness.
Here are some tips to prioritize your mental health for a happy, healthy holiday season:
Healthy lifestyle choices and social support can help you cope with depression symptoms, but they're not always enough. If you notice yourself experiencing sadness, anxiety, or mood swings, don't hesitate to reach out for professional mental health care.
Whether you're experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD), holiday stress, or panic attacks, we're here to help. At Charlie Health, our intensive outpatient program provides more support than once-a-week therapy sessions. We connect each client to a licensed mental health professional based on their unique mental health needs, preferences, background, and experiences to promote healing in a safe, supportive space. Our clinicians can answer any of your questions, help you gain insight into your mental health, and start your journey toward mental wellness.