The winter blues might be more than a passing mood.

Along with hot drinks to keep us warm and falling snow to dazzle us, winter can also bring low moods. Often referred to as winter blues, many people find themselves feeling sad, moody, more tired than usual, or generally run-down during dark winter months. Some also have less interest or motivation, or struggle to concentrate. It is normal for all of us to have ups and downs, but when the blues last for longer than two weeks or seem to occur each winter, it could be a type of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

“I had never experienced this, and I didn’t realize it wasn’t normal,” says Dr. Emily Transue, the associate medical director for the Health Care Authority’s Employees and Retirees Benefits Division. She shared her own experience with SAD, adding, “I wish I had gotten help for it sooner.”

While you might be aware of how you are feeling, it is easy to discount. Fortunately, symptoms can often be treated with changes in your daily routine, such as getting more light by using a UV therapy light or taking a walk during lunch. But it is important to remember that SAD, as Dr. Transue says, “is real and can be serious.”

If you are taking steps toward self-care and still have symptoms, talk to a health care professional. As Dr. Transue encourages, “Everyone has dark days in the winter, but if it is more than that, it is important to get help.”

To learn more about SAD, please visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.


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