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Health Matters - Winter Blues

ian hulme
Health Matters - Winter Blues
03 January 2018

Dr Ian Hulme, GP with Meadowside Medical Centre, Congleton and clinical lead for mental health at NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG

 

Lots of people get depressed in winter, or suffer from "the winter blues". The medical name for this winter depression is seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

If the short, dark days are getting you down, what can you do to feel like yourself again?

Here are some ways to beat the winter blues:

1. Keep active

Research has shown that a daily one-hour walk in the middle of the day could be as helpful as light treatment for coping with the winter blues. Read more about walking to get fit.

2. Get outside

Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on brighter days. Inside your home, choose pale colours that reflect light from outside, and sit near windows whenever you can.

3. Keep warm

Being cold makes you more depressed. It's also been shown that staying warm can reduce the winter blues by half.

4. Eat healthily

A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Read more about healthy eating at nhs.uk.

5. See the light

Some people find light therapy effective for seasonal depression. One way to get light therapy at home in winter is to sit in front of a light box for up to two hours a day.

6. Take up a new hobby

Keeping your mind active with a new interest seems to ward off symptoms of SAD. It could be anything, such as playing bridge, singing, knitting, joining a gym, keeping a journal, or writing a blog.

7. See your friends and family

Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.

8. Talk it through

Talking treatments such as counselling, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you cope with symptoms. Talking therapies, mytalkingtherapies.com/ is a service provided locally.

9. Join a support group

Think about joining a support group. Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA) is the UK's only registered charity dedicated to SAD, visit sada.org.uk/index_2.php for more information.

10. Seek help

If your symptoms are so bad that you can't live a normal life, see your GP for medical help. 

Read more about how SAD is treated at nhs.uk.