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Today is Groundhog Day, which shouldn’t mean much since whether the overgrown rodent sees his shadow or not, winter always seems to last too long. For the record, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow today, which means six more weeks of winter. No one thinks much of this; the weather in most of the country has been very mild anyway and, shockingly, groundhogs cannot actually predict the weather. But as a child I remember eagerly anticipating the prognosis on how harsh the winter would be, dreading the dark silence of another snowfall. While other kids prayed for snow days so they could frolick outside instead of going to class, I just hoped spring would come and come quickly.

I took an Abnormal Psychology class in college and although I thought for at least a second that I had every single disorder we studied, it would take years before I could decide on the one that seemed all too real: Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’m positive that I don’t have multiple personalities or schizophrenia, but I know that if I spend a few weeks in the short days and chilly air of winter I get pretty seriously depressed. I’ve called them my “winter blues” for years but never wanted to turn the low feeling into a disease. For a while, I theorized that the perfect storm of Christmas, New Year’s, my birthday, and Valentine’s Day simply made for a period of reflection on a life that needed improvement. But a few years ago I accepted that my life is fine, it’s just old man winter that makes me so sad.

So I moved. Finding new career opportunities was the driving force behind my relocation from East to West coast, but there was a very curious empiricist in me ready to prove that winter itself was dragging down my life. I rejoiced as I put my heaviest winter coats in storage and let out a squeal of glee when my mechanic told me that I shouldn’t need new tires since my car would probably never drive in snow again. Just the idea of not freezing in the darkness lifted my mood before the winter months even came and I couldn’t wait for proof that for me a happier life means a warmer life.

I’ve spent the past two winters in Los Angeles shaking my head at global warming but sitting outside in the sun wearing short sleeves on most days. It’s not quite beach weather, but it’s hard to be depressed when the sun is shining on your face and the local produce is ripe. The dark, short days of Mid-Atlantic winters are a distant memory that make me a little uncomfortable when I think of them. I feel a tinge of pity for my friends back home when they rave that today’s temperature is an unseasonably mild 50 degrees (to me, now, still rather cold). When I tell them that I can’t even imagine living with “real” winters anymore, they say that they need seasons to break things up. What they don’t realize is that seasons do break things up: for me, into depressed times and happy times.

Do you get “The Winter Blues”? How do you deal with it?

 

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  • Candy 1

    I think most people where I’m from get that way in the winter months (I reside in a Great Lakes state). I try to get out more often, because sitting inside make me feel ten times worse. I also take vitamin D3. I walk more when the weather permits so that I’ll get more sunlight exposure. That is hard for me because the cold air (anything under 38 degrees) really bothers my sinuses, and so I have to bundle up like a mummy to just take a walk. This year, since I have been taking certain measures, I’ve seen an improvement over previous years. I also feel better when I kick up my workouts into high gear.

  • I suffer terribly from the winter blues… Starting when I went to college in Michigan, and is consistent even know… I am literally counting down the moments till Spring Sunshine. I need the Sun, and I need the heat.

    sigh.

  • Ideabaker

    I used to get quite down in winters; tired, a bit achey, brain a bit foggy and just not energised in the least. Then I met a doctor who amazingly did NOT recommend anti-depressants. Instead, he said that he thought I might be deficient in D3 (what our body generates from plenty of sunlight). He put me on 50,000 IU (prescription strength) for ten days. By the fourth day, I felt amazingly better. After the ten days on D3 megadoses (to build up my stores, he said), I switched to 5,000 IU a day (available online at Amazon) and have been on that daily, year round. My energy has skyrocketed, my hair is growing like crazy, and I feel far, far better. I also haven’t caught a cold in a year now. Vitamin D3 for me means no more winter blues!

    • Candy 1

      Yes, a lot of people, especially darker-hued people are more prone to vitamin d deficiencies. I have one every winter if I don’t take a supplement. It really does help my mood, but the downside is that it seems to make me hungrier (or that could be all in my head…not sure).

  • The best treament in my personal experience is light therapy. I use my light box every winter and it never fails to life my mood and restore my energy. I use it ever since I found that research proved it to be as effective as antidepressants.

    • Candy 1

      I think I may look into doing that.

  • Bridget

    No winter blues here…I live in the deep south and I doubt if we have had more than 7 consecutive days of “cold” weather-cold meaning in the low 30’s/mid 40’s. Today, it was around 75 degrees.