What are the winter blues and why do they happen?

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Winter blues hitting you hard? Feeling tired earlier than usual? Or potentially you are feeling lazy and struggle to find motivation to do anything? We feel you, and as it gets to November and the days are starting to get darker earlier, it is difficult to feel motivated to do anything.

In this post we will cover what winter blues are and what causes the symptoms of depression so you can get a better understanding of why you may not be feeling yourself. If you’d like to check out 5 proven ways to overcome winter blues then definitely check out our next post.

So, what are winter blues?

Winter blues is medically referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) but it is most commonly referred to as winter depression. There are a few reasons why this happens, some people are affected by the dark and short days more than others, but it seems that approximately 1 in 15 people in the UK suffer from it.

What causes winter blues?

Why do winter blues happen? It happens due to the lack of sunlight causing vitamin D deficiency and due to the release of hormone called melatonin.

Lack of sunlight

When it’s bright outside and warm, you want to go outside and enjoy the sunlight right? Well, let’s face it, short and dark days can make you feel like you just want to lie in bed and do nothing, it is dark, cold and you don’t feel like there is much to do at that time.

When it’s so dark outside, levels of serotonin can drop dramatically. Serotonin is a hormone responsible for stabilizing mood and feelings of well-being. If the levels of serotonin drop, you can become very susceptible to depression.

Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D is not only crucial for bone health but also for your mental health and well-being.

Numerous studies have shown that that adequate intake of vitamin D improves mood and wards off depression [1].

Increase in melatonin levels

Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your sleep patterns. It gets released by the body when it gets darker so you know it is time to go to sleep. As winter continues and the days become shorter and shorter with sunset starting at 2 or 3pm, the levels of melatonin are much greater than usual. This means you are feeling more tired and sleepy through the day. As a result, you may struggle to feel motivated because you’ll mostly feel like you need to go to sleep.


Winter blues is a name given to a Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is caused by lack of sunlight, vitamin D deficiency and increased levels in melatonin.

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