How does winter impact mental health? It can lead to things like seasonal affective disorder. Learning how to deal with mental health in the winter is important so that you are as prepared as possible to live a healthy, fulfilling winter season.

Casa Serena Treatment is a premier women’s drug and alcohol rehab in Santa Barbara, offering addiction and dual diagnosis treatment for women.

How Can Winter Impact Mental Health?

Winter directly impacts how much sunlight is available throughout the day. Reduced sunlight in the winter can cause a decrease in Serotonin. 

Serotonin is the chemical in your brain responsible for maintaining mood. With decreased levels of Serotonin, you are more likely to struggle with seasonal affective disorder and symptoms of depression. 

Seasonal affective disorder, SAD, is a type of depression that begins and ends around the same time each year, spanning the winter months and leaving you with reduced energy and moodiness. Some signs include:

  • Having low energy from the end of fall to the beginning of spring, with feelings of sluggishness most days
  • Losing any interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having sleep problems like oversleeping or not sleeping well
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Experiencing difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling sad most of the day, almost every day during the winter months
  • Experiencing a change in appetite, craving high carbohydrate foods in particular

Tips For Improving Mental Well-Being in the Winter

Recent studies have found that people tend to have five percent more Serotonin in the summer compared to winter. It’s this five percent reduction that leads to seasonal affective disorder. Thankfully there are tips you can apply for cold weather mental health improvement.


You should get as much sun as possible during the winter. This means opening up the windows to let the sunlight in or stepping outside. Sunlight helps brighten up any room, so you will feel more energized throughout the day. It might be extremely cold and snowy outside, but open windows and sun, even filtered through cloud cover or snowfall, can boost natural serotonin levels.

Don’t be afraid to bundle up, step outside for five or ten minutes, and let the sunshine on your face.

Tip: You can always buy artificial light boxes to help, but natural sunlight, even under cloud cover, is the best way to deal with mental health in winter.


It’s common to reduce exercise levels when the weather is cold, especially if you like to exercise outdoors. But a lack of exercise can exacerbate symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Exercise helps to naturally boost many positive chemicals like Serotonin, so find a way to exercise in your home or go to a gym regularly during the winter weather.


Sleep is essential to keeping your circadian rhythm and natural hormone production at the right levels. So make sure you maintain a proper sleep schedule during the winter with the same bedtime and early morning alarms.

Casa Serena Treatment Offers Women’s Treatment in Santa Barbara

Seasonal affective disorder should not be disregarded as a seasonal issue you have to tackle on your own. Women’s mental health treatment programs can help individuals learn coping mechanisms and life skills that can help promote general well-being in the winter months.

When you are still struggling to deal with mental health in the winter, Casa Serena offers mental health treatment. At Casa Serena, we provide gender-specific, women-only levels of care. You can participate in our residential program, taking yourself away from your colder climates and coming to Santa Barbara for a beachfront treatment with additional sunlight. If you live nearby, you can participate in our outpatient programs. 

Both of these levels of care are offered just minutes from the beach with a range of therapies, including mental wellness programs, cognitive behavioral therapy, career counseling, and trauma treatment. We can customize your treatment based on any other underlying mental health disorders you might have or co-occurring substance abuse disorders. 

Call us today to learn more about our women-only therapies and how we can help you deal with winter blues.

Call Now Button