With fewer hours of daylight and cold temperatures, it is common to occasionally feel down in the winter. But a feeling of sadness that lasts for more than a week or two could be seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that cycles with the seasons. The symptoms are similar to depression, but SAD only occurs during certain times of the year.
How to Prevent or Reduce Seasonal Depression
1. Go outside
If conditions allow it, try and go outside for a few minutes of daylight every day. If you are unable to get outside regularly, using a light box (a lamp that gives off light similar to natural sunlight) may help.
2. Eat well
Colder weather causes us to crave sweets and starches but it’s important to keep protein in your diet to maintain balance. Unlike carbohydrates and sugar, protein doesn’t cause your sugar levels to spike, making you feel irritable, tired, and unsatisfied.
3. Get enough vitamin D
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D but it can also be obtained from certain foods such as salmon, tuna, milk, egg yolks, and fortified cereals.
4. Stay active
Staying active by exercising, socializing, and doing things you enjoy is one of the best ways to beat the blues in any season. Taking a short walk each day is an easy way to improve your mood. Visiting your local senior center is a great way to stay connected and find activities that interest you.
5. Plan for spring
Now is a great time to start getting ready for spring activities. Think of the things you like to do in spring and summer and make a plan for some warmer weather activities you enjoy.
6. Talk to your doctor
If you are concerned about depression, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can check for signs and symptoms of depression by talking to you about your mood and lifestyle. For more information on spotting depression, visit our Depression page.
How Our Plans Can Help
Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred plans offer a $150 reimbursement for fees related to a health club membership, fitness classes (such as aerobics, Pilates, Tai Chi, or yoga), nutritional counseling sessions and other wellness programs like memory fitness activities and acupuncture.
Weight Management Programs
Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred HMO plans and the Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred Supplement One plan provide an annual $150 reimbursement for fees related to weight management programs like WeightWatchers, Jenny Craig, and hospital based programs.