Most of us will visit the doctor when we think we have an infection or the dentist when we feel pain in our teeth. But how many of us take the same steps when we feel more down or stressed out than usual?

It can be easy to consign your mental health to the backburner, but it’s actually just as important to take care of the mind as it is to look after the body. Here are some tips for looking after your mental health during the winter months.

1.Watch your mood

All of us will feel upset or stressed at some point – these emotions are part and parcel of daily life. However, it’s important to make sure that your mood isn’t impinging on your ability to carry out daily tasks. For example, you may be busier than usual at work as the festive season approaches.

It’s normal to feel a little bit stressed out as you try and fit all the work in. However, does that stress stay with you when you come home from work? Or do you feel like your stress response isn’t proportional, and that you shouldn’t be feeling as overwhelmed as you do? If that’s the case, it is possible that you’re exhibiting symptoms of an anxiety disorder.

It is also important to look out for low mood. Many people find that they feel fine throughout the summer, but as the days get shorter they end up hit with the “winter blues”. Whilst a lot of us don’t like cold weather or long nights, “winter blues” shouldn’t be ignored. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of recurring depression thought to be caused by the lack of sunlight characteristic of autumn and winter.

Persistent low mood can be debilitating, and a feeling of depression for almost half of the year should be addressed. Some people tackle SAD by ensuring that they have winter breaks abroad, while others choose treatments such as talking therapy, medication or even mood lamps, which can mimic natural exposure to sunlight.

Elderly relatives should also be looked after during the winter months. As travel becomes difficult and temperatures drop, it’s easy for elderly people to become isolated. This loneliness can lead to depression in older people, which is only worsened at Christmas, so be sure to pay a visit to elderly family members who cannot travel during winter.

2.Address the causes of anxiety

Research into the causes of mental health problems is still ongoing. Having said that, most experts agree that mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression can be caused by unexplained chemical imbalances in the brain or traumatic events and experiences. While you won’t be able to tell exactly what’s going on in your brain, pinning down a root cause of anxiety or depression can do wonders for your mood.

We’ve already mentioned that SAD is particularly common in the elderly, many younger people also suffer from regular anxiety and depression. Health conditions such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation or hair loss, it may be possible that these issues are causing unnecessary worry. Fortunately, a lot of these problems are treatable with the kind of medications we offer here at Express Pharmacy.

With treatment, symptoms such as anxiety may be reduced. But it is also important to talk about your feelings and mental state with friends, family members or a trained health professional (even if you prefer not to disclose the source of your anxiety).

3.Talk to someone

Indeed, it may not be possible to find a particular cause for your mental health difficulties. A lot of people find that they are affected by mental health problems almost randomly, just like physical illnesses sometimes afflict us without cause.

If you’re worried about your mental health, it’s best to make an appointment with your GP. Doctors are well palced to help you plan a course of treatment that is best-suited to your individual circumstances. This can range from medication and talking therapies to lifestyle changes such as a better diet and more exercise.

Would you like more advice and guidance from an experienced medical professional? Did you know that pharmacists are highly trained in many aspects of healthcare and can help you with many issues beyond prescription medication. Try our Live Chat tool today and let us help you work through your health matter.