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Winter Blues and Migraines

Published in Neurosciences, For the Health of It, Headache Care Author: Leah Thronaum,DO

Many people notice that their mood drops a little when winter rolls around. This occurs because our bodies receive less sunlight during the winter months, and the lack of sunlight affects our sleep and our moods.

A small decrease in your mood during the holiday season is normal, but these mood changes may put you at risk for a migraine attack. Some people experience symptoms of major depression during the winter months and individuals with migraine have higher rates of depression than those without.

Tips or Coping With Winter Blues:

  • Stay active! Stay involved in activities, exercise and get out of the house more.
  • Seek out others. Spending time with friends, family or social groups can reduce feelings of isolation and provide social support. Volunteer for a meaningful cause, be active in community or religious groups and participate in social events – even if you don’t feel motivated to do it!
  • Use sunlight to your advantage. So long as bright light isn’t a trigger for your migraine attacks, expose yourself to sunlight or other bright light (but don’t look directly at it, of course) for 20 minutes each morning. Try sitting down to eat breakfast by a large window that receives morning sunlight from the east.
  • Remember that your drop in mood is temporary. It will improve when spring comes.
  • Accept your feelings of sadness. The new year may cause you to remember something that has been lost (a loved one, a relationship, etc.). Value the fond memories but don’t let them decrease your enjoyment of the present and the future.
  • Talk to your doctor if you experience more serious mood changes. Such as: very sad mood most days, loss of interest in normal activities or thoughts of suicide.
  • As much as possible, keep to your normal daily rhythm. Temper your indulgences. And, above all, keep things in perspective.

Wishing you and your family an enjoyable, safe and headache-free new year!