Serotonin acts as a neurotransmitter, a type of chemical that helps relay signals from one area of the brain to another. Although serotonin is manufactured in the brain, where it performs its primary functions, some 90% of our serotonin supply is found in the digestive tract and in blood platelets.
Taking action early can help you fend off these winter depression symptoms. Experts believe that SAD stems from a body clock that's out of synch and is associated with the lack of natural sunlight.
Here’s a winter game plan to keep depression at bay, or lessen its effect, this season.
If You Suffer Winter Depression, Check In With Your Doctor
Start your "game plan" as soon as you notice the first symptoms of worsening depression, suggests Norman Rosenthal, MD, the leader of the research team that first identified SAD in 1984 and author of Winter Blues.
Checking in with your doctor is a good first step, he says. That way, you and your doctor can alter your treatment if you’re already being treated, or tailor a new treatment plan based on your needs.
Know Your Treatment Options for Depression in Winter
Several treatments have been shown to improve seasonal winter depression. Among them: light therapy, antidepressantmedication, talk therapy, and the hormone melatonin.
"People need to mix and match and figure out what works for them," says Rosenthal, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. and a psychiatrist in private practice.
See the Light to Ease Winter Depression Symptoms
Light therapy might be as simple as getting up early and walking outside on a bright winter morning, Rosenthal tells WebMD. "You can also increase light in your home," he says "Make one room a sun room."