Well, this hasn’t been the most fun winter here, has it? Most snow in 50 years; coldest temperatures in 60 years; Avatar sold out again. Shall I go on? Yes, you have every reason to get the winter blues; many people are very prone to this. The western world even has a name for it: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Most people just feel blah, but others can get seriously depressed and need some help. Fortunately, there are many ways to fight this off.
The Wall Street Journal has a nice review of the latest and best treatments for the winter blues (Treatments for the Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder Now Exist). Some major approaches for mild symptoms are:
- Light therapy
- Dawn stimulation
- Vitamin D supplements
- Morning exercise/walk
I personally feel the morning walk, or at least morning exposure to sunlight via windows, helps a lot. Light therapy does have some evidence, but I’m not familiar with that treatment being offered in Beijing. And a good dose of vitamin D may help many other things besides your mood, including protecting your bones as well as possible benefits against cancer and heart disease.
What About Serious Depression?
I definitely see a lot more acute depression in the winter. Some people do need antidepression medicines, but there’s also an effective non-Rx method called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT, for short). This is performed by a trained psychologist/psychiatrist, and with a few sessions of analyzing behavior and working on weeding out maladaptive thoughts and behavior, many people’s depression symptoms can be well controlled. This CBT treatment is useful all-year round for all types of depression. Here at International Medical Clinic, our Dr Mike Mehrvarz is trained in CBT; other clinics usually also have trained staff.
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