New York — Even though it’s the holiday season and joy is supposed to be spread, for many people the winter blues are real.
A recent survey from the American Psychiatric Association found that roughly 40 percent of people said their mood declines in the winter. That includes about 24 percent who said they feel generally depressed in the colder months.
Still, 44 percent said they look forward to spending time with friends and family during the holidays. While nearly half said good food improves their mood.
“Cold, dark weather can have a real impact on our mood,” said APA President Rebecca W. Brendel, M.D., J.D.
“Especially in northern areas of the country, where winter lasts for several months, it’s important to keep tabs on our mood and to seek help if sadness or other symptoms become overwhelming. It’s also a great time to remember that there are winter traditions and activities that can bring us joy and lift our moods.”
Women, at 41 percent, were more likely than men, at 34 percent, to report their mood declines in the winter, the Association found. People in the Northeast and Midwest were more likely to report declines in mood than other regions. That isn’t surprising as people in those two areas often typically deal with months of snow and blistering cold.
Roughly two out of three adults said their behavior changed during the winter.
The rate of people feeling depressed was highest among moms, those in the Midwest and people in rural areas, the survey noted.
Only half of Americans said they have heard of seasonal affective disorder, a depression that occurs at the same time every year.
“Seasonal affective disorder is more than just the winter blues, and people need to be aware that if they’re having depression symptoms specifically during these months, it’s a medical disorder for which they can get help,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A.
“It’s important to get the word out, especially in communities that have been historically underserved by medicine, that this disorder exists and that help is available.”
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Author: Alex Lang
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