Avoid the winter blues
Dr Emma Johnston, Clinical Psychologist, Cumberland Park SA
29 May 2018

Do you suffer from the winter blues?

Have you ever noticed how different you feel when the sun is shining on your face? How about on those rainy and dreary winter days here in Adelaide. How do you feel then? Everyone’s mood can be affected by the weather. It dictates what we wear, when we travel and what activities we choose to do. When winter hits, temperatures dip and the length of daylight shortens. These seasonal changes can affect our entire sense of well-being.

If you find that you feel like a different person depending on the season, you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder.


Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of low mood that appears in the winter months. As the days shorten and we are travelling to and from work in darkness, we may start to feel a downturn in mood. SAD is more common in the northern hemisphere, where the winter days are particularly short, however it has been observed in the southern hemisphere as well, especially places that are further from the equator. 

Women are up to eight times more likely to report symptoms of SAD

So, do you suffer from SAD?

In the winter months, do you:

  • Feel like sleeping a lot more, or struggle to get a good night’s sleep?
  • Feel tired all the time?
  • Experience a change in appetite including more cravings for sugary foods?
  • Experience weight gain?
  • Feel sad, guilty or blame yourself for things?
  • Feel a sense of hopelessness?
  • Feel more irritable?
  • Avoid things you normally enjoy?
  • Feel more stress and tension?
  • Lose interest in sex?

If these sound familiar, what can you do about it?

  • Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and consider seeing a psychologist
  • Try to get some exposure to daylight, such as going for a walk at lunchtime
  • Try to spend time by windows with good natural light
  • Keep curtains open during the day
  • Do some physical activity as this helps relieve stress and the endorphins help lift our mood
  • Try a winter holiday in a warmer climate (although your symptoms may return when you return)
  • Try to maintain your normal dietary intake
Psychologists are experts in the treatment of mental health difficulties including SAD. Contact ThinkWise for further details.

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