Seasonal Depression: 6 Tips To Keep Your Good Mood

Depression affects about 280 million people worldwide and is more common in individuals over 60 years of age. While men are less likely to suffer from depressive disorders, depression and men’s health issues are of growing concern. About 5% of American adults further experience seasonal depression, which, despite being seasonal, lasts about 40% of the year.

Mental health has moved into the forefront in recent decades and continues to fight the negative stigma surrounding it. While many taboos have been broken and are more openly discussed today, depression and men’s health are two topics many struggle to address.

With winter at our doorsteps, however, depressive symptoms tend to become more prevalent and can bring profound feelings of loss and sadness. But your mood doesn’t have to dip every time winter rolls around. Learn to spot the symptoms of seasonal depression and be proactive so you get to enjoy every season of the year.

What is Seasonal Depression?

Seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a form of depression that depends on seasonal changes. Most seasonal depression affects people during the winter months, starting in the fall and stretching all throughout the cold season. By springtime, depressive symptoms usually subside.

SAD occurring during the winter is also referred to as “winter blues” and is tied to shorter amounts of sunlight, changing your inner clock and your daily rhythm. 

Symptoms of seasonal depression include:

  • Mood changes
  • Irritability
  • Low energy
  • Feelings of sadness and loneliness
  • Lacking interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Having a hard time concentrating
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Increase in the amount of sleep
  • Losing your sense of worth

Spotting any symptoms you may have will allow you to take active measures, rectify your course, and find your way back to your normal self.

What Causes Seasonal Depression?

Why is seasonal depression so common later in the year? In fact, there are many possible explanations but the most widely accepted theory suggests that with daylight hours decreasing during the winter months, your circadian rhythm and biological clock get thrown out of balance.

Switching to daylight savings time (DST) has several scientifically proven side effects, including the increased risk of heart attacks and a significant impact on mood in vulnerable populations.

Other potential causes of seasonal depression revolve around serotonin imbalances in the brain, vitamin D deficiencies due to reduced sunlight exposure, and melatonin increases triggered by said reduction in sunlight.

Depression and Men’s Health: The Role of Testosterone

Testosterone deficiency is an endocrine disorder caused by an imbalance in the male sex hormone. Low testosterone can lead to irritability, fatigue, and dips in mood but research further found a link between depressive symptoms and low T.

Vice versa, hypogonadal men who were treated with testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) showed a reduction in depressive symptoms for most individuals. Researchers also noted that TRT was effective both for patients who were and those who were not taking antidepressants. In men with low T, the study suggests, TRT alone might be effective enough to treat symptoms of depression without additional interventions.

How Can You Cope with Seasonal Depression?

You don’t have to sit back helplessly and watch your depression wreak havoc. In fact, there are many proactive steps that you can take to keep your seasonal depression at bay. Here’s what you can do:

(1) Healthy Foods

As you may be struggling with your energy levels already, let’s make sure you don’t put more of a strain on your body. Maintain a healthy and balanced diet, and stick to foods that will supply your body with all the essential nutrients you need.

(2) Regular Exercise

Stay active, go for a jog, or do pilates — exercise doesn’t just strengthen your muscles and support your cardiovascular health. In fact, scientists found that exercise is an effective treatment for depression in some people and can sometimes work just as well as an oral antidepressant.

(3) Sufficient Sunlight

Whether you’re a fan of the colder weather or not, sunlight is a critical factor when it comes to depression. Try to take a short walk, enjoy some time on your patio, or sit by the window with the blinds open.

(4) Healthy Vitamin D Levels

Research has found a link between vitamin D levels and clinical depression, albeit it’s not clear how exactly they’re linked pathologically. Vitamin D can be absorbed from the sunlight but is also available in fortified foods, such as cereals, dairy products, and fatty fish.

(5) Social Interactions

Don’t let your seasonal depression rob you of your ability to enjoy your family and friends. Maintaining social ties has been shown to provide emotional support and eliminate feelings of loneliness. 

Social interactions and strong family ties have even been identified as significant contributors to longevity in the Blue Zones — regions around the world that have been recognized as longevity hotspots.

(6) Hot Bubble Baths

Sometimes you might just need time to relax and recharge your batteries. How about a quick hot bath? If you think baths aren’t manly enough, think again. A recent study that evaluated depressed patients, found hot baths to provide some relief for depressive symptoms, whilst improving sleep quality at the same time.

Set the Tone… or Mood for the Next Season

You don’t have to shrug off your winter blues as normal — especially if they’re annual visitors at your house. While “only” seasonal, winter blues can set the tone and mood for many months ahead. Therefore, don’t underestimate seasonal depression and the impact it can have on your life.

While it can be hard for us to admit that depression and men’s health go, in fact, hand in hand, the truth is that men can suffer from depression too. Sometimes falsely labeled as weak, know that acknowledging your depressive symptoms and reaching out for help, is actually a brave thing to do — men or women alike.

We’re in your corner and want you to prioritize your health. Want to learn more about depression and how low testosterone can exacerbate mood disorders? Sign up for our newsletter and keep in touch.

Marius and its logo are registered trademark of Marius Pharmaceuticals LLC. This website is intended for US residents only and is not a substitute for medical advice.
© 2023 Marius Pharmaceuticals. All right reserved.