Winter blues is a general term, not a medical diagnosis. As the days get shorter, many people find themselves feeling sad. You might feel blue around the winter holidays, or get into a slump after the fun and festivities have ended. Some people have more serious mood changes year after year, lasting throughout the fall and winter when there’s less natural sunlight.
You may feel difficulty waking up in the morning, nausea, tendency to oversleep and over eat, especially a craving for carbohydrates such as cakes, candies and cookies, which leads to weight gain. Other winter blues symptoms include a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating on or completing tasks, withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities, and decreased sex drive. All of this leads to depression, pessimistic feelings of hopelessness, and lack of pleasure which characterize a person suffering from this disorder.
Winter blues is a general term, not a medical diagnosis. The medical term of this is “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)”, also known as winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, summertime sadness, or seasonal depression, is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer.
It’s a well-defined clinical diagnosis that’s related to the shortening of daylight hours. It interferes with daily functioning over a significant period of time. A key feature of SAD is that it follows a regular pattern. It appears each year as the seasons change, and it goes away several months later, usually during spring and summer.
Reduced sunlight in fall and winter can disrupt your body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm. This 24-hour “master clock” responds to cues in your surroundings, especially light and darkness. During the day, your brain sends signals to other parts of the body to help keep you awake and ready for action. At night, a tiny gland in the brain produces a chemical called melatonin, which helps you sleep. Shortened daylight hours in winter can alter this natural rhythm and lead to SAD in certain people.