Is It Just the Winter Blues? Recognizing Seasonal Depression in Black Women

Is It Just the Winter Blues? Recognizing Seasonal Depression in Black Women

Ganiyat Adeniji For Black Girl Vitamins

When we think about remarkable changes in the world, it's clear that Black women have played a significant role ranging from fashion trends to economic growth. However, there are certain factors that can limit them from reaching their true potential, including depression. In this article, we'll explore seasonal depression in Black women and how it can affect them. 

Depression is a prevalent mental disorder that can impact people from all walks of life, including different communities and races. One commonly overlooked type of depression is seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It occurs mainly during specific periods of the year, particularly in the fall and winter. It's more frequent in women than men and may be more widespread in certain populations, such as those living in northern latitudes. Genetic factors can also influence it.

Identifying seasonal depression can be challenging, but it's crucial to be familiar with the typical symptoms. Black women may experience unique symptoms compared to women in other groups, and they may also receive less diagnosis and treatment. Research has shown that black women with depression often report sleep problems, self-criticism, and anger, rather than the more common symptoms like moodiness. Other symptoms may include feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, shame, decreased energy, abnormal eating and sleeping patterns, as well as thoughts of suicide or death.

Have you observed symptoms of seasonal depression? You may not be sure of these symptoms, which sap your energy and make you feel grumpy. It typically starts in the fall and lingers all winter. They normally disappear in the spring and summer. However, less commonly, seasonal depression may occur in the spring or early summer and resolve in the fall or winter.

What causes seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

Though the exact cause of SAD is uncertain, fluctuations in the amount of sunlight exposure in the fall and winter are likely to play a role. Reduced sunshine exposure can lead to chemical imbalances in the body, such as melatonin and serotonin, which can affect mood and energy levels. It can also interfere with the body's natural circadian cycles. Furthermore, age, heredity, and pre-existing mental health disorders may all play a role in SAD. Research has provided certain theories that have helped to understand seasonal depression better:

Sunlight plays a crucial role in our mental health. When the amount of sunlight diminishes, your biological clock shifts. Hormones, sleep habits, and mood are all controlled by your internal clock. When this happens, you find yourself out of sync with your typical schedule and unable to adjust to the day's lengthening. Also, an imbalance in brain compounds known as neurotransmitters enhances neuronal transmission. Serotonin, which plays a role in happiness, is one of these chemicals. If you are at risk for SAD, your serotonin activity may already be low. Sunlight deprivation throughout the winter can aggravate the disease since it regulates serotonin. A further drop in serotonin levels could lead to depression.

Another suggested reason is Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D also boosts serotonin levels. Because sunlight contributes to the manufacturing of vitamin D, less sun exposure in the winter can result in a vitamin D deficiency. That change may affect both your mood and your serotonin levels.

Lastly, unpleasant thoughts about the winter have been observed to either play a role or be an outcome of seasonal depression. People with SAD frequently experience stress, anxiety, and unpleasant thoughts about the winter (this could be as winter approaches). However, researchers are unsure whether these pessimistic sentiments contribute to or are the result of seasonal depression.

Tips to Help Deal with the Outcomes of Seasonal Depression?

  1. Get enough sunlight: Spending time outside can aid with mood control and SAD symptom relief. Make an effort to spend time outside during the day, or consider using a light treatment box. It could be winter, but since every opportunity that you can.
  2. Take Vitamins: Studies have shown that roughly 42% of people in the US have a vitamin D deficiency. This number rises to a staggering 82.1% of black people. To avoid vitamin D deficiency, take vitamin D supplements like the Black Girl Vitamin D3. BGV  Probiotics also help improve mental health by providing lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, which have been shown to improve depression, anxiety, OCD, and memory. Another product is the BGV Sea Moss which has vitamin B which helps improve mood, reduce symptoms of depression, and improve muscle energy.
  3. Stay active: Regular exercise can boost mood and reduce symptoms of depression. Every day, try to obtain at least 30 minutes of exercise, such as yoga, jogging, or walking.
  4. Intentionally look after yourself: Some ways to do this include reading, listening to music, taking a warm bath, or engaging in other delightful and relaxing activities. Making self-care a priority can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
  5. Make connections with others: Social support is beneficial to mental health. Maintain contact you’re your friends, colleagues, and family, or consider joining a depression support group.
  6. Seek professional help: If you're showing signs of depression, you need to immediately seek help from a competent healthcare practitioner. If you currently battle seasonal depression, mild therapy, psychotherapy, and prescription medicines such as antidepressants may be treatment options worth considering. During mild therapy, bright light exposure is used to alter brain chemistry and improve mood. Also, speaking with a mental health professional through psychotherapy can help you manage stress and deal with unpleasant thoughts and habits. Finally, to manage your moods and alleviate symptoms of depression, antidepressants can prove highly useful.

Winter Blues? Say to yourself, “The winter blues always find me. But I keep them at bay by focusing on the good things in life.”

Reviewed by Bryanne N. Standifer-barrett, MD