It seems like it’s been raining non-stop for months now. We get up in the dark, come home in the dark, and wade through mud and flood in between! Christmas has left us feeling bloated and lethargic, and that thud on the doormat is the sound of those credit card bills arriving! Is it any wonder that so many of us are suffering from the winter blues?
For most, the winter blues are nothing more than temporary clouds that pass over our usual, sunnier disposition. Short days and inclement weather encourage us to hibernate at home with a diet of stodgy comfort food and reality TV. This can result in us feeling tired, sluggish and generally fed up. Those who can motivate themselves to get up off the sofa, and get a little exercise or mental stimulation will chase the blues away. Even if that doesn’t describe you, chances are the arrival of spring will wake you up, physically and mentally, and you will find yourself feeling much brighter.
But what if the sadness you are feeling is more than just ‘the blues’? Nearly a fifth of adults in the UK experience anxiety or depression, and in my work as a hypnotherapist I have found a seasonal surge in people seeking help in the winter months.
Depression can be described as “feelings of intense sadness, including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless”. When these feelings last for more than a couple of weeks and keep you from functioning normally, your ‘winter blues’ may very well be clinical depression.
Symptoms of depression may include the following:
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions.
- Fatigue and decreased energy.
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and / or helplessness.
- Feelings of hopelessness and / or pessimism.
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping.
- Irritability, restlessness.
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex.
- Overeating or appetite loss.
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get better even with treatment.
- Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings.
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts.
Depression is a serious problem, and if you or somebody you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts about self harming, then medical advice should be sought immediately.
Depression is often a symptom of unhelpful thinking habits that lead to excessive worrying and rumination. This constant worrying leads to high levels of anxiety, causing mental and physical exhaustion.
Hypnotherapy can be a great aid in reducing stress and anxiety, thus allowing the solution focused brain to function more efficiently and find ways of dealing with problems more effectively. During hypnosis the subconscious part of the brain can also be engaged in learning new and more helpful ways of thinking, so that depression is less likely to occur again in the future.
If you think you may be suffering from depression, please seek professional help. It may not seem like it now, but the days are getting longer; winter is retreating. There is light at the end of even the darkest tunnel, sometimes we just need a little help to find it.
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