Do your white Christmases always turn blue? The Wintertime Blues affects up to 20% of the population, with 4-6% of those afflicted developing a more serious form, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). While SAD often needs to be treated with medication and light therapy, the Blues can be managed with some simple lifestyle changes.
SAD and the Blues present as an atypical set of depressive symptoms that settle in toward the end of fall or the beginning of winter and fade away by early summer. Common symptoms include lethargy, an increased appetite, feeling sleepy all the time, being easily irritated, and a marked increase in relationship problems.
A diagnosis of SAD usually means anti-depressants and formal light therapy, however if your condition is characterized as the less severe Blues, there are a number of lifestyle strategies to help you deal with wintertime depression. Exposure to sunlight is key and physicians recommend spending at least an hour each day outside during peak daylight hours. Even sitting by the window in full sun can do a lot of good if it’s too cold to stay out for long periods of time. Regular exercise is another way you can minimize the effects of seasonal depression—exercise helps relieve stress and releases mood-elevating endorphins that help keep you on an even keel. Finally, it’s important that your sleep/wake cycle stays on a regular schedule and that you keep in close contact with your support network.
That’s where voip comes in, making it inexpensive and easy to stay in touch. Voip’s low long distance rates help remove barriers to picking up that phone. You can talk as long as you want, as often as you need to and it won’t cut into that all important Christmas fund. Even better than ultra affordable phone service are webcam chats, where you use digital cameras attached to computers to make simultaneous two-way video calls with your loved ones.
Virtual visits offer the benefit of face-to-face communication, complete with real-time audio and the easy give and take you get when hanging out with longtime friends and family. Webcam chats let you see all the subtle, non-verbal nuances you don’t get with traditional phone conversations, making it feel like you’re really in the same room. Some people set aside a special night of the week for regular cyber get-togethers with friends and family. Icy roads and winter storms don’t have to interfere with your social life. Get to the party on the information super highway and you won’t miss a thing, plus there’s no need to worry about designated drivers.
If you do find yourself struggling with depression this holiday season and simple lifestyle changes don’t significantly help, be sure to let your personal physician know. You don’t have to suffer in isolation.