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Tips for Battling the Winter Blues

Tips for Battling the Winter Blues

Tis the season….. for seasonal depression?! Seasonal affective disorder (also known as SAD) is estimated to affect 10 million Americans.  In fact, another 10-20% may experience mild SAD, most commonly during the winter months. 1 Some common symptoms of SAD include depression, fatigue, lack of motivation, inability to concentrate, increased sleep, craving for sweets, weight gain, irritability, anxiety, and avoidance of social contact. 2

WIth an especially difficult winter for most of the country, it’s easy to feel less than great. Some expert recommendations for managing season depression include:

  • Get quality sleep – try to maintain a regular sleep schedule, waking up at the same time every day including weekends.
  • Expose yourself to as much sunlight as possible. You can also talk to your doctor about light boxes which are developed specifically for SAD
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Stay active – exercise can help relieve stress and anxiety which worsen SAD symptoms (If exercise is a migraine trigger for you, don’t miss these helpful tips)
  • Manage stress – Actively utilize stress management techniques – carve out some relaxing downtime and make an effort to spend time with friends/family3

Unfortunately for people with migraine, difficult winter weather can also act as a migraine trigger, making this time of year especially challenging.  We decided to ask our Facebook community how they cope with the winter blues. Here are some of the top suggestions:


Migraine and mental health conditions are often comorbid, which means that they occur together although one does not cause the other. People with migraine are at increased risk for depression and even suicide, making mental health management even more important.  If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, please seek help from a health professional.

Tell us – How do YOU combat the winter blues? Please share in the comments! 

  1. Seasonal Affective Disorder. Available at: Accessed February 6, 2014.
  2. Seasonal Affective Disorder – Symptoms. Available at Accessed February 6, 2014.
  3. The Medical Minute: Shine a light on seasonal affective disorder. Available at Accessed February 6, 2014.


  • kara100
    5 years ago

    Eating well, sleeping well, taking Vitamin D3 and 30 min+ daily on a treadmill weren’t helping me ANY day with a terrible lack of motivation. Also tried an antidepressant and other ORC stuff. I only had iniative for daily tasks in evenings. I think I I had become a night person instead of a morning person. Nice weather finally came to Texas, and the last 5 days I was outside doing yard work and getting sun for 1 to 3 hours. The first day, my brain felt over energized and I laid in bed for hours to calm it down. The next day, I felt mentally energized from the moment I woke up, and all day, even though my muscles were sore from yard work activities. That second day I worked outside again, listening to music and my brain was great again, but not over energized. Every day has since been good from the moment I wake up until bedtime. I get up and do some vigorous yardwork, and my brain mood has been wonderful. No migraines either. My body is very overworked and I need a break, and since it might rain tomorrow, I will do time on a treadmill. This is the best my brain has felt in years, usually only getting one good day or so per month. I’ve tried many things, but the combo of vigorous exercise and direct sun seems to have broken the bad downhill spell. Maybe the happy music helped too. Hope I don’t have to keep up the vigorous activity every day, but maybe 3x week. I also hope this good feeling is possible every day.

  • MonaLesa
    5 years ago

    On the Infographic with the umbrella — what is a “butter bur”?

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    Butterbur is an herbal supplement often used by Migraine patients. It decreases inflammation. Brand name of butterbur is Petadolex. You can find it over the counter, but it’s best to talk to your doctor before you start using it.

    Other natural supplements commonly used are feverfew and magnesium.

  • Tim Banish
    5 years ago

    Great article, especially this winter when more of the country has experienced severe weather.
    One of my winter things to beat the blues is chatting in forums about my hobbies and interests. Since one interest is camping that reminds me of the warm days of summer.

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