Fighting off the Winter Blues
It’s January, and while this winter has been warmer than most, it’s still possible to get the winter blues. Women who live with fibroids, endometriosis and pelvic pain are more likely than women who don’t to experience mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. The winter blues are a mild form of depression that occurs during the winter months when we aren’t exposed to much sunlight.
How Do I Know if I Have the Winter Blues?
People who suffer from the winter blues usually first notice a depressed mood that just doesn’t seem to get better. You might also feel apathetic, irritable, fatigued and bored. Some women who have the winter blues may overeat and gain weight – and crave carbs in a major way.
Up to 20% of Americans may suffer from the winter blues. So how do you know if it’s the winter blues or major depression? Sufferers of the winter blues are eventually able to identify that their depressive symptoms occur only in the winter months.
What Causes the Winter Blues?
You may have experienced moodiness before your period, or while you were going through menopause. This is because your mood is influenced by hormones. In the case of the winter blues, melatonin and serotonin levels are disrupted due to shifting levels of sunlight during the winter months.
Your mood is also affected by vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin. When you don’t get the daylight you need to help your body absorb vitamin D, your mood will suffer. Lack of vitamin D may even be linked to fibroid development and growth.
Risk Factors for the Winter Blues
If you’re a MIRI reader, it’s likely that you already have one major risk factor for the winter blues: gynecological disorders are predisposing factors to clinical depression. Women who live further away from the equator and those who spend very little time outdoors (like women who need to spend time resting due to fibroids or endometriosis) are also at risk. Feeling a sense of sadness after the holidays can also make you more likely to suffer from the winter blues.
Fighting Off the Winter Blues
The most effective way to fight off the winter blues is to spend more time outdoors. A short daily walk that exposes your hands and face to fifteen minutes of sunlight may do the trick. Keeping a regular schedule, going to the bed at the same time each night and exercising regularly may also help keep you on track. If it’s just too dark for you to possibly get sunlight where you live or if you are unable to find any time to get outdoors, you can purchase a desktop UV light that can help you get through the roughest winter months.
If you think you might have the winter blues, please reach out to your family doctor or mental health practitioner.
Content Sponsored by: MIRI Women – The Minimally Invasive Reproductive Surgery Institute (MIRI) brings together highly skilled, board-certified specialists who are focused on women’s health. Our team of professionals is trained in advanced gynecology, specifically hysterectomy surgery. Philosophically, our partner physicians take a “less is more” approach to health care, by first treating patients with the most conservative therapies. MIRI focuses on physical healing, while emphasizing that a patient’s emotional well-being is just as important.
Villanova Counseling Center. (2016). Winter blues / Seasonal affective disorder. Retrieved from https://www1.villanova.edu/villanova/studentlife/counselingcenter/infosheets/winterblues.html