Apathy, sadness and low mood in winter
Mar 24, 2022
It has been proven that the seasons, and in particular winter, influence the mood of people, and may even lead to the appearance of complications in the field of health mental.
In fact, sometimes it is necessary to act preventively so that important emotional affectations do not appear and with capacity to harm our well-being, since many people feel sadness, apathy and low mood in the months of winter. And this has an explanation.
In this article We will see the main effects that winter generates in our state of mind and what we can do to mitigate the low state of mind in winter.
- Related article: "The 6 Types of Mood Disorders"
Why do I feel sadness and apathy in winter?
It has been proven and we ourselves can notice that during the winter the mood decreases, and depressive symptoms may appear. In this way we must take into account the country where the subject resides, since the characteristics of winter will vary. For example, it will not be the same to live in a country where it is cold throughout the year compared to another where there is more variation in temperature depending on the season.
Thus, it has been seen that Among the winter variables that most influence our emotions, the lack of light stands out. The lack of sun in winter influences circadian rhythms, sleep and wake cycles, and can alter sleep and, therefore, rest. This also affects the subject's energy, they feel more tired and do not want to do anything and, finally, it will also affect their mood, appearing diminished.
Apart from getting dark earlier in winter, the rays of the sun that reach us are more tenuous; that is, they arrive with less intensity and heat less. This decrease in the strength of the sun also affects mood, helping the subject to feel less energetic.
This change in daylight hours affects the individual hormonally, altering the production of serotonin and melatonin. In the case of the first, serotonin, its production increases when the individual is exposed to the sun. Therefore, during the winter, with fewer hours of sunlight, the amount of this hormone available will be less. Serotonin, also known as the hormone of happiness, has been observed to decrease in subjects with depression, with an altered mood.
Likewise, serotonin is a very important neurotransmitter linked not only to mood but also to aggressiveness (serotonin decreases it); with stress, which also decreases with the neurotransmitter; with the behavior of pleasure, which is activated by serotonin, with feeling more relaxed, and with increased concentration and self-esteem, which are also favored by this hormone. The precursor of this neurotransmitter is tryptophan, which is an amino acid obtained from foods such as chicken, bananas, eggs or rice.
Instead, melatonin is related to the regulation of sleep-wake cycles, with more secretion of this hormone appearing at night, when it is already dark. Therefore, in winter, when night falls earlier, melatonin production will be higher, thus increasing the feeling of tiredness, apathy and drowsiness.
Another organic compound that will also influence is vitamin D, that one of the ways to obtain it is through the sun's rays; for this reason during the winter the reception of this by the effect of the sun decreases, thus being another factor that affects the low mood
In the same way, the climate also influences. In winter the temperature is lower and the days are usually grayer, and it is for this reason that if these weather conditions are combined with a bad day or with an already low mood, the lack of pleasant stimuli does not help to feel better and has more repercussions on how the individual feels, causing his emotional state to drop even further.
- You may be interested: "Types of Neurotransmitters: Functions and Classification"
seasonal affective disorder
If the affectation produced by winter, the change of climate and light that we have mentioned, is of great intensity, having a great impact on the subject, he can develop an affective disorder with a pattern seasonal.
Seasonally influenced mood disturbance is a type or specification of mood disorderboth depression and bipolarity. For this reason, it will be necessary to meet the basic diagnostic criteria for depression, such as adding 5 symptoms, where one of them must be apathy (this involves experiencing a depressed mood) or anhedonia (which is a loss of the ability to experience pleasure) lasting at least two weeks. In any case, the true diagnosis can only be made by a mental health professional who examines each particular case. (although what we have seen so far can help identify warning signs and go to the doctor or psychologist clinical).
- Related article: "Seasonal affective disorder: 5 warning signs to identify it"
How to combat the effects of winter on mood?
To help people who suffer from low mood in winter, in the most extreme cases (which can be considered seasonal affective disorder) a specific procedure is applied for the seasonal type called phototherapy, apart from the psychological and pharmacological techniques or therapies that are commonly used in mood disorders in general. This consists of exposing the patient to an intense light that acts as a synchronizer of the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is the area of the hypothalamus linked to the circadian rhythm. Another useful technique can be the simulation of sunrise, also with the help of artificial light.
In less extreme cases, given the possibility of developing a more serious alteration, if the first symptoms of decrease in mood, it will be essential that we act preventively to reduce the possibility of further affectations important.
So that, In the face of problems due to low mood during the winter, it is recommended that we modify, if we can, our sleep schedule, trying to wake up a little earlier to make the most of the sunny hours. Another proposal to make linked to the sun's rays is to try, during the day, to go to the places on foot, to help us better capture these rays.
Another aspect to consider is eating a good diet, introducing more foods that are rich in vitamin D, which is what the sun gives us, and try to take advantage of any moment so that they give us a little rays solar.
In the same way, playing sports will help us produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin or dopamine, related to the circuit of reinforcement and brain activation, or the endorphin peptide, linked to the decrease in the sensation of pain and the increase in pleasure. Exercising benefits us not only physically but also mentally, and helps improve our self-esteem, since we see ourselves and feel better and perceive that we can meet our objectives and goals, which allows us to enter into a dynamic of healthy living and a proactive attitude towards the problems and challenges that life poses to us. lifetime. In addition, whenever possible it is advisable to practice sports outdoors even in winter, since in the event that it is still daytime it may be time to take advantage of the sunlight.
Similarly, the attitude we show will be very important, that is, what our thoughts and beliefs are like. If our thoughts are negative and we face the winter reluctantly, we are already conditioned that it affects us and has more repercussions on us. On the other hand, as in everything, if we try to see the good part of this time of year, for example, the beauty of the celebrations Christmas in the northern hemisphere) will help us cope better and reduce the likelihood that it will alter our condition.
Finally, so that the mood does not drop during the winter it is essential that we do not isolate ourselvesThat we don't stay locked up at home. We must relate and keep in touch with others, adapt plans to the cold and not let it affect your social life.