Seasonal blues – How to cope? Find out

Fighting Monday blues? It could have more to do with season than day of the week.

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It is estimated that up to 3% of people in the US, in fact, are affected by SAD each year, and women are four times more likely to experience it than men.

The change of season has ill-effects on both physical as well as mental health. What most people term as Monday blues can also be a severe case of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression most pressing during winter months.

However, seasonal blues can get worse and recur throughout the year. Disrupted routines and erratic sleep could be two reasons for this.

It is estimated that up to 3% of people in the US, in fact, are affected by SAD each year, and women are four times more likely to experience it than men. As per news website, Hanne Hoffmann, assistant professor at Michigan State University, says people with SAD tend to experience common depression symptoms, feeling depressed most days, losing interest in activities they once enjoyed, experiencing changes in appetite or weight, having problems with sleep, low energy and feeling hopeless or worthless.

SAD, however, only affects people four or five months of the year, typically the winter months when the days become shorter. “Light promotes the secretion of hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain,” said Hoffman. “Because there is less daylight and the light isn’t as intense in the winters, we don’t produce as much serotonin, and that can lead to depression.”

Seasonal blues, as opposed to Monday blues, tend to affect mood more often when the seasons change. And seasonal depression has a noticeable influence on cognitive, emotional, behavioural, and physiological functioning. It is frequently caused by neurochemical changes in the brain. Melatonin levels drop (sleep chemical is produced higher than normal in the brain) and sleepiness may result from increased melatonin synthesis. Low or inadequate sunshine reduces serotonin synthesis in the brain, a neurotransmitter that is vital for learning, memory, sleep, and mood. Circadian rhythms (the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, which influences mood and leads to melancholy) are directly affected with an impact on neurotransmitter levels, sensitivity, and control.

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So how to cope with seasonal blues? As per Vishwa Modi, chief psychologist, The Mood Space, an e- counselling platform, light therapy works. “Change lifestyle such as increased sunshine exposure, exercise, and mobility. A therapy like seeking professional treatment might be beneficial in dealing with a bad mood. Or cognitive-behavioural therapy assists people with working through cognitive patterns and behavioural activation. Medication also helps if there is a direct influence on social and occupational health,” says Modi.

While seasonal blues have entered the common parlance in today’s times due to the extreme changes in climate affecting millions of people around the world, it is most commonly observed among people between the ages of 18 and 30. As per fitness expert Meenakshi Mohanty, “Regular exercise, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, staying connected with family and friends can help avoid seasonal blues. Staying active physically, mentally and socially is imperative,” she says.

Yoga helps to incorporate mind-body practices and aids in the treatment of seasonal depression. Dr Rajeev Rajesh, chief yoga officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute, Bengaluru, says, “It promotes physical and mental well-being. Depression is considered to occur when the body-mind lacks sufficient prana, also known as life force energy. Prana possesses attributes such as enthusiasm, joy, and peace. Regular yoga and meditation practice help to increase prana levels, which reduces depression symptoms. Yoga asanas like Balasana, Halasana, Setu Bandhasana, Mukha Svanasana, and Savasana are effective way to combat depression,” says Rajesh.

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Another good way to combat seasonal blues is to play with soil, building castles on the beach with sand — all this helps in battles against sadness, anxiety and depression and boosts potential through its positive effect. The easiest way to ground is just to walk on the floor at home (non-carpeted) or sit on the floor. Grounding helps with maintaining the health of the root chakra, the first chakra out of the seven main chakras in the body, and is based on the earth element. This is responsible for confidence, support, the musculoskeletal system, and sustenance. Grounding can reduce stress levels, help the body recover from stress induced issues and uplift the spirit.

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First published on: 26-02-2023 at 02:15 IST
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