Do your moods change with the seasons? Michigan Medicine experts are here to help

March 5, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources,

Although the days are gradually getting longer, the months of snowy, frigid weather can result in many people feeling down. But if you feel extra blue in the winter months, year after year, it may be due to seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

SAD is a type of depression that happens during the same season each year. For example, if your low mood occurs for two or more seasons in a row, you may be experiencing SAD.

While it is commonly associated with winter, SAD can happen at any time of the year. Some people may experience a mild dip in mood or energy, but for others, the concerns interfere with everyday life.

“If you are feeling low, know that you are not alone — a caring community of people and resources is available to you,” said Kelcey Stratton, a clinical psychologist and the program manager for resiliency and well-being services with the Michigan Medicine Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience. “Our office can help you understand the patterns in your emotions and energy levels, and support you with practical and personalized skills for your concerns. Seasonal transitions and reminders can impact emotional health and reaching out to trusted friends, family, colleagues or mental health professionals is one important way to navigate the ups and downs of life.”

SAD can affect anyone, but it’s more common in women. It is also more common in areas with reduced daylight hours and those who have a close relative with SAD. It can make you feel irritable or anxious and cause a loss of interest in usual activities. It can also lead to changes in weight and feelings of fatigue.

Self-care steps that you can take to help feel better include:

  • Finding time outside during daylight hours,
  • Keeping a regular sleep cycle,
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and physical exercise, and
  • Finding moments to connect with friends and family.

“During the long, cold winters, some people may be a little less active than usual, socialize less frequently or change their routines,” Stratton said. “Paying attention to our needs by practicing regular self-care is important — not just in winter, but all year long. We’re here to help you build your strengths and reconnect to hope.”

The Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience is available to serve the mental and emotional health needs of Michigan Medicine faculty and staff.

It provides no-charge and confidential counseling, consultation and stress debriefing services to help faculty and staff develop strength and resilience in their personal and professional lives.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 734-763-5409 or email counseling@med.umich.edu.

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