ZocdocAnswersCan traveling get rid of the winter blues?

Question

Can traveling get rid of the winter blues?

Is this why people go to warmer climates in the colder months? I kind of like the cold but sometimes I get really sad day after day without seeing the sunshine.

Answer

"Seasonal affective disorder" is the medical term for what you are discussing. While it is not usually a severe form of depression that needs treatment, people who live in colder, darker climates frequently report feeling more "blue" during the dark, cold winter months. Some psychiatrists feel that this is due to the fact that cold regions are dark around the time when most adults are waking up to go to work, and that this causes problems with patients' Circadian rhythms (the body's sleep-wake, light-dark cycle), causing people to feel down. Another hypothesis is that since it gets darker earlier in the evenings, people are less likely to spend time outdoors doing activities that are usual stress-relievers like exercise, walking pets, etc. If you can afford it and get time away from work, traveling to a warmer, brighter climate may be helpful. You may find, however, that your symptoms return when you come back. There are some other therapies for seasonal affective disorder, like "light box" therapies that expose you to large amounts of artificial light (in your own house) upon waking up to "reset" your circadian rhythm. You should see your primary care physician or a psychologist/psychiatrist to further discuss and to make sure you do not have a more severe form of depression.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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