Consumer Reports: How to cope with seasonal depression

Winter is here, and with it, shorter days. Less sunlight might have you feeling a little down.

We’re working for you on four ways to help this season feel a little brighter.

If you have felt your mood dip recently and wondered why - winter may be the culprit.

“Less sunlight during the day affects how our bodies regulate serotonin and melatonin. And when levels of these hormones are thrown off, it can affect our mood and sleep,” Catherine Roberts with Consumer Reports said.

For some people, this disruption can be dramatic, and lead to a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder or S.A.D.

Signs include – weight gain, fatigue, trouble concentrating … and other things that make you feel off, and not like yourself.

“Five or more of those symptoms are enough for a doctor to diagnose you with seasonal affective disorder. But many more people have what’s called subsyndromal S.A.D., where you’re not completely disabled by winter, but you’re also not at your best,” Roberts said.

Treatment can include medication along with light therapy - sitting in front of a light box each morning to trick your eyes and brain that the sun is up.

You can find light-therapy boxes over the counter, but Consumer Reports recommends only using one with a doctor’s diagnosis.

“Some conditions that can mimic depression, like bipolar disorder, can actually get worse with treatments for S.A.D.,” she said.

CR said some other ways to fight off the winter blues include getting outside to soak up as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising daily, and trying to push yourself to be social - scheduling lunch with a friend, even if you don’t feel like it.

CR said these interactions may help lift your mood.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, you can call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988 or chat with someone by clicking here.

About the Authors:

You can watch Brittny during the week anchoring the 5, 7 and 11 p.m. newscasts on WSLS 10 and reporting on news that matters to you.

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.