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How Winter Impacts Bipolar Disorder and What You Can Do to Cope

The dark and gloomy winter days can take a toll on anyone’s mood. It’s natural to feel like you’ve got no energy or motivation to do any of your routine activities. All you want to do is curl up in your bed inside a fuzzy blanket with a hot beverage.

How Winter Impacts Bipolar Disorder and What You Can Do to Cope

But when you’re already battling bipolar disorder, the term “winter blues” takes on a completely new meaning. It’s more than simply about feeling low and unmotivated. It can interfere with your ability to carry on with your daily life.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at how winter affects people with bipolar disorder. Also, we’ll discuss a few useful tips to help you deal with seasonal mood swings. Let’s get started.

Bipolar Disorder and Weather: Understanding the Connection

Exposure to daylight controls the circadian rhythm of your body. While increased sunlight during spring and summer can trigger a manic episode, bleak and overcast winter days have the opposite effect. Also, the reduced exposure to sunlight inhibits the production of serotonin in your brain.

That’s the reason people with bipolar disorder have a higher likelihood of experiencing a depressive episode in winter. A recent study has also established that winter triggers more suicidal thoughts and attempts in an individual with bipolar disorder.

But that doesn’t mean you have to surrender to the wrath of winter, and give up on your mental wellbeing altogether. There are ways to manage a depressive episode despite the darkest winter days.

Tips to Deal With Bipolar Disorder in Winter

First things first – not everyone with bipolar disorder will experience a depressive episode or an aggravation of symptoms in winter. But if your mood takes a downward turn as the mercury levels head south, here are a few ways to keep your mental health in check:

1. Prepare for the Weather

Coping with bipolar disorder in winter involves a series of minor lifestyle changes, as well as prescription medication and therapy. The key is to keep an eye on your symptoms and start implementing your coping strategies as soon as the weather starts changing.

It’s particularly important when you live in a city like Braselton that’s known for its dull and grey overcast skies during winter. Make sure you monitor the temperature in Braselton, GA to identify the onset of winter.

The idea is to stay a step ahead of the weather by regularly checking the forecast. It’ll give you plenty of time to consult your psychiatrist or therapist, and outline a suitable treatment plan for winter. Also, it’ll help you identify patterns in your mood swings and any additional triggers.

When you know your symptoms might worsen in a couple of days or weeks, you’ll be better equipped to plan your routine in advance. You can even complete any urgent academic or work-related projects before the onset of a depressive episode. Also, you’ll have enough time to inform your support network of family members and friends.

2. Stay Away From Comfort Foods

When you’re feeling low and depressed, your natural tendency will be to gravitate towards carb-heavy comfort foods, such as mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. Or you might crave a dose of caffeine to boost your energy levels. You’ll also find yourself yearning for sugary treats and junk food.

But any food that’s loaded with carbs and sugar will make you feel more lethargic, thus taking a toll on your mood. Similarly, caffeine can worsen your mood by triggering anxiety and restlessness.

That’s why it is wiser to steer clear of conventional comfort foods. Instead, try to embrace a protein-rich diet that’s packed with eggs, seeds, nuts, and lean meat. Also, make sure you get an adequate dose of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

3. Let the Light In

Even if your city only gets a few hours of daylight during winter, make sure you soak up as much sunshine as possible. Exposing your eyes and body to sunlight during the day will help stabilize the circadian rhythm and improve serotonin levels in your brain. Also, it’ll help you sleep better at night.

Even if you’re working in the office, take frequent breaks to go outdoors for a short walk. Also, using lightboxes to increase your exposure to daylight might be a good idea.
While seasonal changes will continue to hinder your mood and energy levels, a healthy and wholesome diet can go a long way to stabilize mood swings. Also, make sure your eyes get plenty of daylight. Don’t forget to consult your therapist before your symptoms spiral out of control.