Seasonal Affective Disorder and Winter in Minnesota

Minnesota is a hard place to live, and maybe even harder to love, between the months of October and March (or April or May). It’s cold, it’s snowy, the sunlight hours are short, the commutes triple in length, it shows no sign of thawing or letting up, and there might not seem to be much to look forward to.

It’s no wonder a lot of people in Minnesota know about Seasonal Affective Disorder* and many feel they have it to some degree or another. You might notice that you feel down or sad more often; have lower energy than usual; lose interest in activities you usually enjoy; feel a change in your sleep, activity, or appetite; or have feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness. If you feel suicidal, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741, the Crisis Text Line.

If you have some of the symptoms above and want to try to do something about them, here are some things to try:

  1. Get outside anyway – getting some fresh air and sunlight whenever and wherever you can find it can help your body and brain shake off some of the sluggishness that you might start to feel if you’ve been cooped up inside or inactive.
  2. Change your habits – pay attention to where you have slipped into habits that don’t serve you well, and make some changes where you need to in terms of exercise, eating/drinking, and sleep. Set some achievable goals in whichever area(s) you might need work and then give yourself some credit when you achieve them!
  3. Reach out – try to stay connected with your people, even though it can feel hard to make and keep plans during the winter. Feeling down can also make you want to isolate yourself, so make conscious efforts to keep in touch and get yourself out to resist the urge to stay secluded.
  4. Make a therapy appointment! Talking with a therapist can be really helpful if you’re struggling with some feelings or thoughts that you can’t get a handle on. Look in your area or reach out to Wild Tree to get information on how to make an appointment.

*In the mental health field, Seasonal Affective Disorder isn’t a distinct diagnosis, it’s known as a Major Depressive Episode with Seasonal Onset. Seasonal Affective Disorder is just easier to say, and the initials spell S.A.D., which is so fitting!

Written by Jessie Everts, PhD, LMFT

Photo credit: