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How to Beat the Winter Blues: Dealing with Seasonal Depression

The winter months can bring excitement and joy as we celebrate the holidays, decorate the tree, and spend time with our loves ones. However, it can be quite a different experience for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD). For these individuals, winter can be a time of gloom, despair, and hopelessness.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (sometimes referred to as seasonal depression) is a kind of depression that manifests seasonally. It usually occurs during the winter due largely in part to decreased sunlight. SAD is more common in women than in men, and an estimated 10 million Americans suffer from it. Symptoms are similar to those of regular depression: intense feelings of sadness, loss of interest in things that once provided joy, significant changes in sleep patterns, and withdrawal from social activities.

The good news is that there is hope and help available. If you have the winter blues, there are ways to feel like you again! Some common treatments for SAD include light therapy (using a natural light to simulate sunlight), regular exercise, counseling, self-care, and taking antidepressants as prescribed by a doctor. 

How to Help

You can provide encouragement and support to a friend or family member who has SAD or seems to be feeling extra down during the winter. However, there are certain things you should not say or do. Here are statements to avoid saying to someone with seasonal depression:

1) “You don’t look depressed.”
2) “Happiness is a choice.”
3) “I know just how you feel.”

(I was interviewed by UtahValley360 magazine about what to say and not to say to someone with SAD. Click here to read the full article.)

If you find yourself feeling extra blue this winter, know that there are some steps you can take to relieve your symptoms and help you feel better until spring comes again. Trained counselors at Wasatch Family Therapy can help you on the road to recovery. Find a therapist here. 


About Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW:
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to TV Shows and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter. Her books The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide are now available. Dr. Hanks is currently accepting coaching clients.


Nick Stokes

Great article Julie! I especially like the fact that you are explaining certain misconceptions regarding this disturbance! People need to realize that this is a severe medical condition and not some fleeting emotion.

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