Fending Off Depression Symptoms in Winter
Try this winter game plan to ease symptoms of depression.
Consider a Treatment Tune-Up
If you've got a history of diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD),
re-evaluate your depression treatment this year. "Ask your doctor if you
need more medication or more talk therapy," Rosenthal says.
Sometimes, increasing your antidepressant dose in early October, through
March or so, helps, says Alan Gelenberg, MD, a professor emeritus of psychiatry
at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and a clinical professor of psychiatry at
the University of Wisconsin Madison.
For some people with winter depression, getting more therapy during colder
months can help, too, Gelenberg says. "If they do better coming in once or
twice a week, fine," he says. But "for a lot of people that's not the
Instead, he sometimes focuses during therapy on providing a patient a set of
tools to use when mood declines. The goal: Help people with depression
recognize when their mood is becoming low and take action by reaching out to
Another useful depression strategy: do more "homework" between your
formal therapy sessions, suggests Josephson. He advises patients to keep a mood
log. Journals or logs help people identify moods and their reactions to
situations. This understanding, in turn, helps people with depression evaluate
and replace negative thoughts.
He also advises patients to stop "ruminating" -- going over and over
a perceived shortcoming in their mind. He cautions them to replace negative
thoughts, such as "The party will be bad," or "People think poorly
of me" with more positive ones.
Beware If You Crave Sweets and Carbs
Craving carbohydrates -- especially sweets -- is a common symptom of SAD,
But the boost in energy you get form these simple carbs is temporary, and
the extra sweets can mean you'll put on weight. "I recommend a diet low in
simple carbohydrates and high in complex carbohydrates [such as whole grain
foods and starchy vegetables such as potatoes] and protein," he says.