Winter depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is quite common in otherwise-healthy adults. And symptoms can worsen as you age and begin to also deal with some of the physical limitations that go along with growing older.
If you’re an aging adult in which winter brings on a serious case of the blues, here are some things you can do to help boost your mood:
- Embrace the sunlight. The main cause of SAD in seniors is the lack of daylight during the winter months. I know it can get pretty cold during a Kansas City winter, but bundle up and go outside when the sun is shining anyway. The sun provides the majority of the Vitamin D your body needs to produce serotonin. And low serotonin levels can lead to depression.
- Invest in artificial lighting. For days when there’s snow or ice on the ground (or there just isn’t much sunlight) you might want to invest in a “light box,” which simulates sunlight. Ask your Kansas City primary care physician (PCP) for product recommendations.
- Exercise. Exercise causes your body to release endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. It can also have the added benefits of muscle toning and weight loss, both of which can also improve your outlook.
- Be social. Another reason why some seniors experience winter depression is a lack of social activities during the winter months. So invite friends over, plan a family potluck, and/or attend events held by Kansas City senior centers.
- Eat right. A lot of older adults gain weight over the holidays by endulging in sweet treats that contain a lot of carbs. If you’re one of them, when the holidays are over it should come as no surprise when your body continues to crave carbs. Feeding your body lots of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains instead will help fuel your brain, thereby improving your mood. And healthy eating can also help you lose that holiday weight.
- Visit your PCP. If the above strategies have done nothing to ease your winter depression, make an appointment to see your Kansas City PCP. He (or she) can rule out any physical causes and prescribe antidepressant medications, if indicated for your condition.
- Get outside help. If you have mobility issues that are keeping you from exercising, eating right, and/or getting out in the sunlight, enlist the help of a Kansas City home health provider. A good home care agency can help with meal preparation, exercising, and outdoor time.