Depressed in winter?

Watch out for winter depression

  ◎Yang Jianlan

  In the deep winter, everything is withered.

As it gets dark early and light up late, some people start to become decadent: unable to get up, unable to lift energy, doing a lot of things but feeling lack of meaning, and always showing up a lot of negative emotions... if it appears The above symptoms, we must be vigilant, will it be winter depression coming to our door.

So, what exactly is winter depression?

Why are people prone to depression in the cold winter?

  Shorter sunshine can cause depression

  Winter depression is a kind of seasonal affective disorder (Seasonal Affective Disorder, referred to as SAD). It often starts in autumn and winter and improves naturally when spring comes. It occurs at the same time every year.

Seasonal affective disorder was first discovered and proposed by South African psychiatrist Norman Rosenthal in the 1980s.

  After Norman Rosenthal moved from South Africa to live in New York, he found that he would feel inexplicably depressed in winter, and his interest in life and work declined. When spring came, these phenomena disappeared and he became Energetic.

For this reason, Norman Rosenthal put forward the hypothesis that winter will make people depressed, and then he conducted a large sample survey and found that seasonal affective disorder is common in North America, and many people will be in the fall and winter seasons. Fall into seasonal affective disorder.

  In addition to the cold regions of North America, the Nordic countries are also areas with a high incidence of winter depression.

Winter in Northern Europe can last from November to March of the following year, where the winter sun only rises at 10 in the morning and sets again at 4 in the afternoon. Insufficient sunshine is considered to be the cause of the high incidence of winter depression.

Many psychological studies have found that light has a great relationship with depression, because light directly affects the secretion of serotonin and melatonin in the body, and these two substances are closely related to the emotional state of the person.

  Serotonin is a natural mood regulator, which can make our mood more peaceful. Insufficient serotonin secretion can make people feel depressed, unable to lift energy, and have difficulty concentrating.

A study conducted by the Baker Institute in Melbourne, Australia showed that the turnover of serotonin in the brain is affected by the amount of sunlight, and the serotonin content is higher in sunny days than in cloudy days.

In other words, insufficient sunlight in winter will cause insufficient serotonin secretion and lead to poor emotional state.

  Another substance that affects the emotional state of people-melatonin, is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland of the brain, which can promote sleep. The main component of many sleep aids is melatonin.

Melatonin is secreted less during the day and more secreted at night.

In autumn and winter, the days are short and the nights are long, and the secretion of melatonin increases, which makes it easy for people to feel sleepy during the day.

  Who is prone to winter depression?

According to statistics from the National Institutes of Health, 10% to 20% of people in the United States suffer from winter depression every year. Women, young people, people who have suffered from depression, and people with major changes in their lives are more likely to get sick.

  The diagnosis must meet the criteria and be identified by a doctor

  Insufficient sunshine in the cold winter season can make people’s emotional state worse, but most people can adjust themselves.

Only by meeting the following diagnostic criteria can it be called winter depression in line with seasonal affective disorder. In this case, you need to seek professional help from the psychiatric department of the hospital.

  According to the authoritative diagnostic book developed by the American Psychiatric Association-"Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5)", there are two diagnostic criteria for winter depression:

  Article 1. At least 7 of the following symptoms must be met during the coming of autumn and winter: feeling helpless, sad; suicidal thoughts; drowsiness; appetite change, especially fond of sweets or starch-rich foods; weight gain; feeling physical Very heavy; easy to feel exhausted; reduced physical activity; easily tired; difficult to concentrate; irritable; avoiding social interaction; particularly sensitive to rejection of others.

Second, the situation where depression occurs in autumn and winter and improves naturally in spring has occurred for at least two years.

  Those who meet these two criteria can be diagnosed as winter depression, and the final diagnosis needs to be identified in the psychiatric department of the hospital.

For the treatment of winter depression, there are usually phototherapy, drug therapy, psychotherapy, etc.

  So, how can we prevent and avoid winter depression?

The psychologist gave the following 3 suggestions:

  First, insist on outdoor walks in the sun for 15 to 30 minutes every day.

Adequate light helps the body's secretion of serotonin and makes people happy, while reducing the secretion of melatonin and reducing sleepiness.

  Second, eat a reasonable diet and add more vitamin D.

Vitamin D contributes to the synthesis of serotonin. You can eat more foods rich in vitamin D, such as egg yolks, nuts, milk, lean meat, animal organs, seafood, etc.

In addition, eat more protein-rich foods.

  Finally, don't indulge in negative emotions, divert your attention appropriately, and do more things that make you feel happy.

When a person is depressed, it is easy to be immersed in negative thoughts or emotions. At this time, you must consciously divert your attention and do other things, such as listening to music, growing flowers, chatting with friends, etc., which will help enhance your sense of pleasure .

  (The author is a national secondary psychological counselor)