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Winter Blues Got You Down?

For many of us in the northern hemisphere, with winter, comes cold weather and less daylight. These changes in environment can affect our psychological functioning and may contribute to an exacerbation of anxiety, while others may notice depressed mood, irritability, weight gain, hypersomnia, and an increase in interpersonal conflicts.Women are twice as likely to experience these climate-related psychological changes. Symptoms tend to peak during the month of February.
Whether your mood changes are within the “normal” range, or whether you have the “winter blues” or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is thought to affect up to 5% of the population, it is not uncommon to notice changes in how you feel consistent with the changing of the seasons. In fact, the first documented reference to these changes was in 1918 when the term “cabin fever” was coined as characterized by irritability, paranoia, memory problems, and excessive sleep. Now, this term is commonly used to refer to the boredom which results from being indoors for an extended period of time.

If you ever find yourself indoors a bit too often during the cold weather, try combatting the winter blues with some of these strategies:

  • Spend some time in the daylight (as little as 10-15 minutes per day of sunlight can contribute to positive mood changes)
  • Light therapy or the use of full-spectrum/broad spectrum light bulbs in the home
  • Be active: exercise, cook, play board games or computer games, create art projects or crafts (activity is a great mood lifter)
  • Catch up on communication: phone a friend, engage in a video chat/Facetime/Skype session, host a get together/dinner/movie night, carve out special time with a spouse, child, or other loved one (interaction with others helps us to feel connected and less isolated)
  • De-stress: relax with activities like meditation, yoga, tai chi, spa services, movies, music
  • Avoid excessive alcohol (excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to depressed mood and irritability)
  • Psychotherapy and/or medication can also be helpful in addressing these depressive feelings

Spring will be here before we know it….

 

Dr. Deibler

Lead photo available at 123rf

Winter Blues Got You Down?


Marla W. Deibler, PsyD

Marla W. Deibler, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist and nationally-recognized expert in anxiety disorders and the obsessive-compulsive spectrum, including trichotillomania and other body-focused repetitive behaviors, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hoarding, and tic disorders. She is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia in New Jersey, an outpatient facility specialized in providing evaluation and evidence-based, cognitive-behavioral therapies for these and other difficulties. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of OCD-NJ, the New Jersey affiliate of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). Dr. Deibler gained her formative clinical experiences at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Children’s National Medical Center, and the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. She gained specialized behavior therapy experience in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders at the nationally-recognized Behavior Therapy Center of Greater Washington. Dr. Deibler served as a clinician at the National Center for Phobias, Anxiety, and Depression. She also served as Director of Behavioral Sciences at the Temple University School of Dentistry and served on the clinical faculty at Temple University Schools of Medicine and Allied Health as well as Temple University Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Deibler has published scientific research in peer-reviewed journals and has presented clinical training seminars and research findings at national and international meetings. She has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, A&E’s “Hoarders”, TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive”, CBS News, ABC News, FOX News, It’s Your Call with Lynn Doyle (CN8, Retirement TV), and CBS’s “Swift Justice with Nancy Grace”. She has been quoted by media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and the Connecticut Post, among others. Dr. Deibler holds licenses to practice psychology in New Jersey (Lic. No. 35S100438000) and Pennsylvania (Lic. No. PS0157790). She is an active member of the American Psychological Association, Trichotillomania Learning Center, International OCD Foundation, OCD-New Jersey, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and Anxiety Disorders Association of America. Dr. Deibler resides in suburban Philadelphia with her husband (who is also a psychologist) and three children.


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APA Reference
Deibler, M. (2013). Winter Blues Got You Down?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 19, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-that-works/2013/01/winter-blues-got-you-down/

 

Last updated: 20 Jan 2013
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network (blogs.psychcentral.com) prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.