To take a page out of Kermit’s book, it’s not easy being blue.
We know because while we’re not quite navy, we’ve definitely been feeling azure or even maybe aqua lately.
But according to our good doctor, Dr. Ariel Dalfen, MD, staff psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Hospital (Toronto), blue is a pretty common way to feel at this time of year.
Technically, the winter blues are a form of mild depression brought on by a decrease in exposure to sunlight as we move through autumn and winter. About 25% of people are affected by it and four times more women than men (so not fair) suffer from the winter blues (and its more severe counterpart, Seasonal Affective Disorder).
The scientific scoop? The winter blues are thought to be caused by changes in melatonin and serotonin levels, which can affect mood, hunger and sleep. Sufferers experience changes in their mood, energy level and ability to concentrate. Sound familiar? While not as severe as long-term depression, the winter blues can indeed affect the way we think, react and deal with everyday challenges. (Read: blaming the cashier at the grocery store for the candy on display that your toddler is grabbing and begging for or screaming your head off when your car gets stuck in a snow bank.)
Dr. Dalfen suggests that if you experience two or more of these symptoms each year in the fall and into the spring you too may suffer from the winter blues:
- Increased feelings of lethargy
- Difficulty waking up in the mornings as the days get shorter
- Difficulty concentrating and thinking creatively in comparison to the summer months
- Incorrectly blaming oneself for things that go wrong
- Difficulty performing tasks that normally seem to be easy/enjoyable
- Increased craving for carbohydrate-rich food like chocolate (OK—we know this could be a constant state for some!)
So what to do to be less blue?
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