Keep the Michigan winter blues away by following these tips from a Metro Detroit psychologist.
By Andrea Walker-Leidy
Sponsored by Viewpoint Psychology and Wellness
We’ve all heard about the “winter blues,” especially here in Michigan. Seasonal Affective Disorder, the medical condition sometimes called the winter blues, is common in states that have weather changes such as Michigan.
Viewpoint Psychology and Wellness in Commerce Township offers important signs and symptoms to watch for in ourselves and loved ones as we settle in for the final weeks of winter.
“Many people begin to experience symptoms starting in the fall here in Michigan when the weather starts to change, and we realize the long winter is ahead of us,” says Dr. Melanie Schwartz, psychologist and owner of Viewpoint Psychology and Wellness. “The most important thing is to recognize the symptoms and talk to a professional.”
The symptoms of SAD are the same as those of major depression disorder. Symptoms to look for in yourself or a loved one include, but are not limited to:
- Depressed or sad mood more days than not
- Crying more often than usual
- Feeling more irritable than usual
- Wanting to isolate from friends or family
- Loss of motivation or loss of interest in enjoyable activities
- Significant increases or decreases in sleep and/or appetite
- Decreased ability to focus or concentrate
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, hopeless and suicidal thinking.
“When we meet with someone to assess their symptoms, it’s important for us to be aware of the time of year the symptoms began and if they come in cycles with the seasons,” Schwartz says. “If someone is in our office, they’ve taken the first step toward feeling better.”
How do Michiganders battle Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Therapy is usually the prescribed form of treatment, in addition to medication. The clinicians at Viewpoint Psychology and Wellness say that therapy alone, or the combination of therapy and medication, is the best treatment for any form of depression.
“Therapy can help clients understand their symptoms and why they are occurring,” Schwartz says. “Exercise and diet are also extremely important. The chemicals released during exercise can elevate mood. Additionally, sugar and carbs can increase depression, while fruits, veggies and protein can help to decrease symptoms. If you’re eating healthier, you will feel healthier!”
Specific to SAD, light therapy is also another option. Schwartz recommends that Michigan residents who may not be able to travel to a warmer climate during the winter should consider purchasing a light therapy box for their home or office. The box gives off a specific form of light, helping to reduce symptoms of depression.
“Most importantly, get out of the house,” Schwartz says. “Staying inside promotes depression and keeps you isolated. Go outside and socialize, participate in outdoor activities to take in some natural sunlight. Lastly, keep your window shades open. Even on a dreary day, some light is better than none!”
Schwartz is a clinical psychologist and has been working with anxiety and depression, as well as adolescents and their families, since 2005. She utilizes both cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavioral treatment approaches to help clients achieve effective results.
She opened Viewpoint Psychology and Wellness in 2016 with the goal of helping people improve their lives and reach their highest potential. The office has an expert team of psychologists, social workers and psychiatric nurse practitioners focusing on the needs of each client and their path to wellness.
Viewpoint Psychology and Wellness
2075 E. West Maple Road, Commerce Township