WINTER BLUES? Exercise and eating a healthy diet gives you more energy to help avoid mood swings and weight gain. (Photo: Getty Images)

WINTER BLUES? Exercise and eating a healthy diet gives you more energy to help avoid mood swings and weight gain. (Photo: Getty Images)

If you’re feeling extra grumpy and depressed this time of year, it may be more than a bad case of post-holiday slump. In many parts of the country, January means dreary weather, darkness by 5 p.m. and an increased risk of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a form of depression that correlates with the changing of the seasons. Women are at a slightly higher risk for SAD, but everyone is a little happier when there’s lots of sunlight.

Symptoms of SAD Include anxious or empty feelings, feelings of hopelessness; guilt, irritability, restlessness, loss of interest in life; fatigue and decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, sleeping, changes in weight and in some cases, thoughts of suicide, according to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To lift your spirits and protect yourself from SAD, try these five easy fixes:

  1. Keep Your Space Well-Lit

The most effective treatment for SAD is light therapy. Saturating your space with bright light helps to ease the transition from one season to the next. One of the most effective ways to do this is purchasing a light box designed specifically to treat SAD.

  1. Talk to a Friend

Keep in touch with your buddies. Isolating yourself only increases your risk of depression. Socializing also gives you the opportunity to talk things out when you’re feeling down.

  1. Get Active

Try a new hobby. Check out this amazing list of hobbies of all kinds. You are sure to find something to make you smile. Joining a gym or trying an at-home workout might also do the trick. Exercise is one of Mother Nature’s best remedies for the blues.

  1. Stick to a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet gives you more energy during the day and it will help you avoid mood swings and SAD-related weight gain. Steer clear of processed foods and alcohol, and focus on the right carbohydrates. Fruits, whole grains and foods high in B vitamins like eggs may help.

  1. Talk to an Expert

If you are experiencing depression and self-help is not doing the trick. Reach out to a counselor or therapist. Depression is a treatable illness, so there is no need to suffer in silence.

Once you know what you’re up against, it’s easy to guard against SAD all year long.

Tonesha Townsel is a writer for 

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