We only have a few weeks left in winter, but if the cold weather has left you in a slump, you aren't alone. Feeling tired of winter is normal, even with spring nearly in our grasp, but if your symptoms are more serious, you could be dealing with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a depressive condition caused by a change in seasons. According to academic journal Psychiatry, it affects up to 20 percent of American adults, and symptoms can include a heavy feeling in your limbs, trouble completing tasks and a loss of energy in things you usually enjoy.
Psychotherapist Katherine Schafler tells Bustle that seasonal affective disorder is also marked by a rough time waking up in the morning, overeating, decreased energy and having a hard time concentrating. "It's important to note that SAD is more than just feeling ‘out of it’ for a few days," she says. "SAD is also marked by a withdrawal from social activities, uncharacteristic pessimism and the inability to extract as much pleasure from things that normally make you happy."
Schafler, who works with Airbnb to develop strategies for fighting winter blues using their experiences, says it's normal for people to blame themselves for a winter slump, but "SAD is not is a personality preference." It's a physiological response to a change in light exposure, which can affect your ability to absorb serotonin, and the further you are from the equator, the more at risk you are of developing SAD. If you're experiencing depressive symptoms, it's important to talk to your doctor. But even if you don't have the condition, you may feel weary as you await warmer days. Schafler shared some suggestions for making the best of the rest of winter with Bustle.