The following is the full Ask LSOP #23 question and answer, featured in the Little Shop of Pleasures January 2018 newsletter.
I'm one of those people who finds their overall mood dips in the winter. My friend keep joking with me about how I should masturbate more... does masturbation actually help the winter blues?
First, a quick disclaimer; masturbation and other lifestyle changes aren't a substitution for medication/counseling for folks who need the support of a healthcare provider.
When the winter blues kick in, it's more important than ever to practice self care. Treat your body right by eating healthy food on a consistent schedule, and exercise- even just a little bit- every day. Keep a consistent sleep schedule too, and try to be easier on yourself in general. Masturbation (and partnered sex too!) is another thing that we can do that is good for the body and the mind. Sexual stimulation triggers the release of feel-good chemicals likes dopamine, which activates the pleasure center of the brain and relieves stress, pain relieving endorphins, and prolactin, which helps us sleep. Treating yourself kindly in these dark, cold months is a good way to help your body and brain cope with the stressors that lead to seasonal depression and anxiety, and masturbation is just one of the things you can do to treat yourself.
Thanks for the question!