Wintertime and Mental Health

Seasonal Affective Disorder wintertime

The COVID-19 pandemic already has had a significant impact on the mental health of many, but with another Wisconsin winter right around the corner, it is crucial that we all continue to take steps to safeguard our mental health.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that typically occurs during these fall and winter months due to a decrease in social interaction, lower levels of sunlight, and increased levels of melatonin. SAD affects half a million people every winter between September and April, peaking in December, January, and February. The “Winter Blues,” a milder form of SAD, may affect even more people.

Here are just a few practices that can help in developing resilience to the effects of winter on mental health:

  • Stay active and engage in regular exercise to help reduce and prevent depression.
  • Connect with others, whether in person or virtually. Social connectedness positively impacts physical and mental health.
  • Bundle up and spend time outside to improve mood and self-esteem.
  • Prioritize and engage in self-care. This may include getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, and practicing mindfulness.

Read more about SAD prevalence, symptoms, causes, and treatments in this informational overview from Mental Health America of Wisconsin.

NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) also offers this quick guide to Wisconsin mental health resources, including crisis services, treatment programs, and statewide advocacy organizations.