Yes, the winter blues are very real, and people who don't normally suffer depression can find themselves feeling 'not themselves' during the winter months. It can also be called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a condition in which people with normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in winter.
It is thought that the shorter days and less sunlight can be one of the contributors, and people tend not to go outside as much as it get colder. Winter can make us want to over-sleep, over-eat and become less-social. Symptoms usually start out mild and get worse as the season progresses. When the season changes, people normally become completely well again.
Symptoms of SAD in winter include: lack of energy, sleeping too much, finding it hard to wake up in the morning, feeling very tired all the time, overeating and craving carbohydrates, gaining weight and losing interest in normal activities.
Most people will be able to make adjustments to their lives to get into a good routine of sleeping, eating well and exercising, and add activities over the winter months to help their bodies cope with the changes.
If you are concerned about how you are feeling or you know of someone who hasn't been themselves over the winter months, it is recommended that you see your GP for further investigation.
If you or someone you know needs urgent help or support with mental health here are some numbers who can help guide you to getting further information or support.
- Mental Health Line - 1800 011 511
- Lifeline - 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au/about-lifeline/contact-us
- Parents Line - 1300 1300 52 www.parentline.org.au
- Kids Helpline - 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelpline.com.au
- headspace - 02 4824 4944 www.headspace.org.au/headspace-centres/goulburn/ (ages 12 - 25)