Tips for beating the winter blues
Monday, February 25, 2019
The long Montana winter continues to drag on. It’s a time when seasonal depression can present itself for many people, including lawyers. Anne Chambers, director of the Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program, offers some insight into the condition and how lawyers can seek support in dealing with it.
How would you describe seasonal depression?
Seasonal depression is sometimes referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or the winter blues. Symptoms tend to arrive and recede around the same time each year, with mood lowering as days grow darker and lifting in the spring or summer. Seasonal depression is more than the post-holiday blues. People with this pattern of depression typically experience normal mental health the rest of the year. Many people report feeling depressed during the cold months, when there is less daylight.
Commons signs of seasonal depression are sadness, loss of energy, tiredness, sleeping excessively, and changes in eating habits, such as craving carbohydrates, overeating and weight gain. Some experience anxiety or irritability and feelings of hopelessness. Sadness and tiredness can make it more difficult to concentrate, focus, get out of bed and off to work in the morning, accomplish day-to-day activities, and enjoy your daily life.
When should someone see a professional about seasonal depression?
Depression is treatable. Most people who seek assistance for depression start to feel better in a matter of weeks. It’s important to speak with your doctor or another professional any time you think you are experiencing depression. Get help if you are feeling overwhelmed; your quality of work or life is impacted; you feel miserable; or if feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness creep in. Many people obtain help for seasonal depression. Professional treatments include counseling and medication. Reaching out for help is an act of hope. Treatment can be game changing, and sometimes lifesaving.
What are some additional treatments?
In addition to counseling and medication, treatments include light therapy, exercise and increased outdoor activity. Here are some strategies to cope with seasonal depression:
Brighten your day. Get an extra boost of sunshine by opening the blinds, sitting near a window or venturing outside.
Boost mood with exercise. Some people take up winter sports or exercise in a well-lit area.
Spend time outdoors. While this can be tough in the winter, doing so can boost your spirits.
Lighten your mood with upbeat music.
Serve. The satisfaction of losing yourself in service to others can lift your mood and offer a shift in perspective.
Start planning your next vacation now. Doing so boosts happiness. Some try a mid-winter vacation in a warm, sunny location for a brief reprieve.
Depression is treatable. For confidential screening, please contact the Montana Lawyers’ Assistance Program at 406-660-1181. You deserve to feel good about yourself and the work you do.