There ain’t no cure for the wintertime blues…

“Wintertime blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a very real condition afflicting a great percentage of today’s youth and adult populations from a very mild ways to a very serious levels. It can be more than just a case of the winter blahs! Nationally, 11 million people are affected by SAD, annually.

Physically, SAD is often professionally treated on an individual basis with Bright Light Therapies and/or medications.

At Moving Forward our Senior Move Managers® interact daily with seniors, so we have learned to be extra cognizant of their moods and sensitivities. SAD may be one of the only things that affect the people we move week-in and week-out.  So, we are appreciative and respectful when they or a family member take the time to explain their or their loved one’s behaviors.

How does an employer, a parent or a Senior Move Manager® recognize SAD?  Symptoms may include unusual or sudden sadness, anxiety, irritability and even violence. Moods swings may be more than normal, with some people’s sadness progressing into real periods of uncontrolled grief. Anxiety and irritability may translate into sudden emotional outburst or periods of acting out, especially among children. Still others may withdraw and even begin missing work or social events where they otherwise are expected to be. Hypersomnia also is common, with people experiencing SAD sleeping for prolonged hours.

Science confirms that longer periods of darkness in winter can adversely affect many people.  Scientists have identified a small cluster of brain cells (neurons) called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus as the body’s probable biological clock site. And, in short, it has to do with the amount of light coming in through one’s eyes. Hence, the advent of bright light therapy.

Here are some basic tips for the average person to help ward off the “wintertime blues”:

  • Pay attention to your moods. If you know you are affected by SAD to some degree each year, plan on increasing your exposure to bright lights and/or consult your physician.
  • Plan wintertime events. Keeping busy and positively interacting with others can help with mood swings.
  • Gear yourself up with the mindset that you want to enjoy winter and to appreciate something in each winter day.
  • Pay attention to others, and do not dismiss any suicidal expressions or actions by others. Learn the warning signs and symptoms.

Finally, just work to be happy around others. Make someone’s day a bit brighter with a kind word or a smile.  It can’t hurt and may do more good than you’ll know!