7 Ways to Combat Depression in the Winter

11/22/2012

Winter depression photo

The sky seems like it’s gray for weeks at a time. It’s painful to go outside because the air is frigid. You’re a victim of the weather no matter how you slice it. But winter comes every year so you might as well learn to deal with it.

This is not doctor's advice. Please consult a doctor to determine the best course of treatment for you. 

Here are 7 ways to avoid depression this winter: 

1. Start Meditating 

Learning to live in the present moment is a great way to avoid the anxiety that goes along with the darker months. One study in the Archives of General Psychiatry showed that people suffering from depression who had taken drugs to control it but whose symptoms were in remission found mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was just as good at preventing the return of symptoms as was continuing with drugs. 

2. Pick Your MITs

Meeting goals is another way to kick the blues when the weather is a downer. Zen Habits outlines something called MITs or 3 Most Important Tasks and the importance of doing them first thing in the morning. "I work on my personal goals first thing in the morning, before I do anything else. This way every day begins positively and in line with my future." 

3. Try to be Optimistic

You are the way you view the world and if you always look at a glass as half empty then it will be. Even when it’s tempting to be a downer, try and look at the bright side. If you need help, put a reminder on your bulletin board or refrigerator to be more optimistic. Find the good in what you have not what you want to have.

4. Nurture Social Relationships

Thinkstock
Keep your friends close even when it seems to tough to be social

Even when it seems appealing to stay in all the time, try and go out and meet up with friends at least a few times a week. Resist the urge to shut yourself off from the world around you even when you wish you could.

5. Develop Strategies for Coping

Whether it’s running on the treadmill for 30 minutes, going skiing, hitting a yoga class, or watching your favorite movie, find an activity that helps you snap out of it. Choose what works for you and go for it when you need to most. 

6. Light Therapy

Stay outside for as long as the weather permits in order to avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms usually build up slowly in the late autumn and winter months so stay outside as long as possible. If you are afflicted with SAD, try light therapy. Light therapy uses a special lamp with a very bright light (10,000 lux) that mimics light from the sun. It's especially helpful in places that endure the pangs of winter for a longer period of time. Start light therapy before feeling the symptoms of SAD. Talk to your health care provider about light therapy. 

7. Load Up on B-Complex Vitamins

Fall and winter can bring anxiety and depression and one of the best ways to stave it off is with ample B vitamins which help with nervous system function. Deficiencies in vitamin B can lead to anxiety, irritability, restlessness, and fatigue. B-vitamins include B2, B6, B5, B12, etc. If you're considering a supplement, talk to your health care provider. You can take all eleven in a B-complex supplement.

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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