With the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder, seasonal depression is just around the corner for many. Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year – usually in the winter.

Those who suffer from major depressive disorder year round may also see an increase in depressive symptoms during the winter months. The cold weather, lack of sunlight, and holiday stress can all be factors leading to an increase in depression.

If you or a loved one live with depression during the winter months, or if you’re just looking for a way to destress and stay positive this winter, check out these tips:

  1. Light Therapy: Light therapy boxes give off light that your brain perceives the same way it does sunlight. They are designed to manipulate your natural release of melatonin to keep you happy and awake.
  2. Stick to a Schedule: Depression is known to correlate with other mental health issues. Many people with seasonal depression are prone to insomnia and/or anxiety. Maintaining a regular schedule can improve sleep while keeping your life predictable, which can reduce anxiety.
  3. Get Some Fresh Air: Try to spend at least 10 minutes a day outside, even when it’s cold. This has been shown to increase mood, especially during the daylight hours.
  4. Exercise: By now, most of us know that there is a direct relationship between exercise and mood. Adding some light cardio into your daily routine could help you feel better, sometimes as soon as that day!
  5. Diet: Recent studies have shown that eating healthy foods for as little as three weeks can help decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  6. Grow Houseplants: Keeping houseplants is an easy, effective way to keep symptoms of seasonal depression at bay. Studies have shown that the act of caring for something, even just watering a houseplant once or twice a day, can reduce feelings of depression.
    TIP: Find some houseplants that give off more oxygen. Research has shown that an increase in oxygen can improve mood, increase energy, improve concentration, and reduce stress.
  7. Keep Busy: It’s not uncommon for people to fall into a routine of going home and watching Netflix every day when the weather gets bad. It’s important to fight the urge to withdraw, and make the time for social gatherings, even if it just means cooking dinner with a friend.
  8. Aromatherapy: Many people have found that essential oils, scented Epsom salts, and certain candles or incense can improve mood. Specifically, citrus scents can improve energy and mood, while softer scents like lavender can help you de-stress and sleep.
  9. Get Away: If you’re able, it can be beneficial to take a vacation during the winter months. Even if you’re not able to actually go anywhere, taking a week to yourself to focus on doing the activities you love is bound to help your mood!
  10. Talk to Your Doctor: Whenever you’re feeling symptoms of depression, seasonal or not, you should consult your doctor. If you’ve tried other methods and you’re still feeling down, your doctor can monitor your progress and help you find other treatments, like antidepressants, that best fit your needs.

PharmaSite Research knows that depression is more than just a case of “the blues,” which is why we are aiming to help worldwide researchers find potential new depression treatments through the clinical research. If you’re living with depression, or know somebody who is, do your part to help the advancement of medicine. Volunteer now!

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