Winter Depression: 3 Tips for People in Chicago

winter depression chicago

Winter Depression is a Chicago Reality

By: 2SC Staff

Winter Depression is a reality for many people in Chicago because of our short summers, long winters and lack of sunlight. Specifically, we are talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Women tend to suffer from this form of depression than men but both genders struggle with this disorder. Children and teens can also suffer from SAD.

Because Chicago has a geographic location that is relatively high in terms of northern latitude, sunlight is often struggles to reach the ground from November – March. Throw in icy cold winds and sub-zero temperatures and its enough to make anyone feel down!

Mood related issues like SAD can become compounded during the holiday season, particularly if you have recently experienced a loss. The good news about winter depression is that it can be effectively treated in almost all cases, with many natural options to choose from.

What follows are three things you might consider as part of your own approach to dealing with winter depression. Keep in mind that in order to be clinically diagnosed with SAD, you must first have a general diagnosis of depression.

1. Try to get morning sunlight

During the winter months, sunlight is at a premium. This is in part due to the winter solstice and because of daylight savings time.  If possible, try to get up a few minutes early and open up your blinds. Then, sit in front of the window and look outside.

Do not stare at the rising sun. Instead, simply gaze out the window and let the light do its work. Try doing this for about 15-20 minutes each day. The goal is to let in all of the rays from the light become absorbed visually so that your serotonin levels increase, which is thought to elevate mood.

Light boxes can be used as a substitute for the morning sun and many people have found using these devices to bring noticeable relief.

2. Increase physical activity

One of the best things you can do to push back against winter depression is to increase your movement throughout the day. Research has demonstrated that activities like strength training and other forms of resistance training can help to minimize symptoms of depression.

In truth, even small amounts of physical activity, like taking stairs or exercising on a cardio machine can help make you less vulnerable to winter depression.  

3. Talk Therapy

An additional approach to coping with winter depression is counseling, also referred to as psychotherapy. Sometimes, speaking with a counselor who understands the unique relationship between your mood and the winter can help ameliorate some of the sadness.

Counseling also helps you to feel more connected to others and can act as a motivational force for change. Counseling works best for winter depression when it is combined with physical activity and light therapy, according to the research.

cognitive behavioral therapy

Final Thoughts

Winter depression is a very real issue for many people in Chicago. You are encouraged to visit with your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms of depression to rule out potential medical causes.

Some people have benefited from medications designed to treat depression and anxiety – two mood related issues that are common in people with SAD.

If you want to learn more about different forms of depression, please consider reading this article. If you are concerned that you may hurt yourself, please call 800-273-TALK or go to your local emergency room.

To learn more about how counseling may help you in treating winter depression, please give us a call at 773-528-1777 or send us a confidential note using our secure contact form.

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