Tag Archive for: seasonal depression

Winter holidays involve light to provide comfort and hope

Light and Hope

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been struck by the number of holidays that take place during what in the Northern Hemisphere is the darkest time of the year and all the things they have in common. To me, it starts with Diwali, which is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs around the world. For five days, Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. Many people are familiar with the Jewish tradition of Hanukkah, which is also known as the Festival of Lights. Some Christians celebrate Advent, in which candles are lit, adding one each consecutive Sunday for the four Sundays before Christmas. During the Winter Solstice, some folks light paper lanterns, which they release in community festivals. Kwanzaa involves lighting candles and families and communities coming together.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

Winter can be really challenging for many people. With the cold and darkness, we’re more biologically vulnerable to experiencing intense emotions. Add to that the expectations of how things “should” be, challenging relationship dynamics, financial concerns, and (as always) the capitalist expectation that despite all our obligations, we still need to be ‘productive,’ and you’ve got a terrible storm to weather!

Weathering it Together, or Light and Hope

All these traditions are about light. It’s funny how many figures of speech there are about light: in light of something, to bring something to light, the light of someone’s life, shed light on something, light a fire under someone, et cetera. Light is so important during these dark times, but more importantly, community is important. We know that people succeed when they are given appropriate support, whether it’s in recovery from substance misuse, independent living with an intellectual disability, or overall mental health.

Along with light and community, there is hope. Hope that the darkness will not overcome us. Hope that tomorrow will be just a little bit brighter. When I was in my training program, one of my mentors called therapists ‘keepers and cultivators of hope.’ I love that as not just a job description but as a life philosophy. At True North, we aim to cultivate hope with our clients. Sometimes that means holding hope for them when they become too overwhelmed to hold it themselves. I’d like to end these thoughts with my favorite Emily Dickinson poem:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—

That perches in the soul—

And sings the tune without the words—

And never stops—at all—


And the sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—

And sore must be the storm—

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm—


I’ve heard it in the chilliest land—

And on the strangest Sea—

Yet—never—in Extremity,

It asked a crumb—of me.


This blog was written by True North’s Clinical Director, Jennifer Kendrick. Jennifer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Indiana and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Kentucky. Learn more or get in touch here.

Seasonal Affective Disorder or Seasonal Depression is Common

Darkness Approaching… How to Manage Seasonal Depression (SAD)

Seasonal Depression, also referred to as seasonal affective disorder or SAD, is approaching us with the start of fall! 

Do you notice you are sadder in the winter months? 

Do you experience more social withdrawal, irritability, or less enjoyment in winter? 

If so, is this a pattern in your life? 

The American Psychiatric Association explains the relation to a biochemical imbalance in the brain caused by fewer hours of daylight and less sunlight. It’s not you. It’s winter! 

What can you do?

  1. Find ways to connect with friends and family! 
    • Connection fights depression! 
  2. Schedule time to get as much sunlight as possible. 
    • Consider waking up earlier or taking breaks to get outside when the sun is shining! 
  3. Exercise 
    • Endorphins make us happy! Whether that’s hitting the gym, walking/running outside, or yoga in your living room. Exercise is very helpful! Research tells us the benefit includes: improving your brain health, helping manage weight, reducing the risk of disease, strengthening bones and muscles, and improving your ability to do everyday activities.
  4. Check-in with your diet 
    • Are you eating balanced meals? According to the CDC, “People with healthy eating patterns live longer and are at lower risk for serious health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. For people with chronic diseases, healthy eating can help manage these conditions and prevent complications.” 
  5. Check your Vitamin D levels with a doctor’s visit! 
    • Requesting a blood work panel could indicate you may have a vitamin D deficiency impacting your mood. 

Finally, consider talking with a therapist to help manage your symptoms and decrease the inner darkness. 

This blog was written by Meredith Edelen, MFT Associate, CSW. As a welcoming, empathic, curious and strengths-focused psychotherapist, Meredith believes everyone needs a collaborative and safe space. To learn more about Meredith or schedule an appointment with her, click here.