Expert offers tips on how to beat the winter blues

SOUTHFIELD, MICH (WXYZ) - Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter.

SAD is also commonly referred to as winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, and seasonal depression, and it's peak in peak in January and February. Symptoms include:

* Low energy and sleeping more than usual.
* Feeling apathetic, unmotivated, bored, and less interested in friends and activities you usually enjoy.
* Feeling irritable, moody, and letting your relationships suffer.
* Overeating, gain weight, and cravings for carbohydrates.

There is no medical consensus on the causes of winter blues. The main theory is that it's caused by a lack of sunlight which affects the workings of the hypothalamus. This in turn affects the formation of neurotransmitters — chemicals that brain cells use to communicate with each other.

Ways to beat the winter blues include eating a healthy diet emphasizing vegetables, fruit, protein sources, and healthy fats, engaging in meditation and/or light therapy, staying active and creating anticipation for things to do when the weather starts getting warmer.

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