Does the winter weather have you unmotivated and checked out? You are not alone.
We live in a society where we don’t always distinguish what we’re feeling and what is making us feel that way. In our everyday lives, we have a bad habit of hiding our emotions and recalling what emotions we are feeling. During the winter months, higher rates of people typically report feeling low, unmotivated, and uninterested. These are signs of seasonal depression.
According to the Web site of Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s collaborative medical program, anyone can experience severe or mild forms of seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD or seasonal depression, but it is most common in women between the ages of 15 and 55.
“A lot of people experience lower moods in the winter months and don’t take the time to recognize why that is,” said psychology expert Emily Durbin. A lot has to do with the changes in the weather, the sun’s out less, its cold outside, and typically its easier to stay in then to go out and do something.”
“When its cold you have to do more to go outside,” said Michigan State student Sierra Searcy. “So most of the time, I’d rather stay warm inside my apartment then to make the effort to go do something.”
While it is easy to stay snuggled up at home, Durbin says she believes this could be one of the reasons higher rates of people report feeling depressed during the colder months.
A large reason behind this change in mood is the light we encounter. Seasonal depression has a lot to do with the serotonin in our bodies. During these months we experience less natural lighting leading our bodies to secrete lower levels of this natural, mood-lifting drug.
“A large part of change in mood during these months is because of the low levels of lighting,” says Durbin. “In the winter the sun typically comes out less then in the summer months and it can have a major impact on our moods and motivation.”
According to research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, people tend to feel more optimistic and report higher well-being on sunny days.
“On days that it’s kinda cold and cloudy, I really do just wanna lay in bed all day and watch Netflix and not really do anything at all,” said MSU senior Shae Skinner.
Durbin says there are a few things we can do to help combat seasonal depression. “Exercise, getting out even if you feel like you have to push through to do so… Light therapy.”
Natural fixes for seasonal depression are going to vary for each individual but incorporating exercise into your routine, spending time with people, and getting outside could help tackle this commonly dismissed diagnosis.