When you see the winter forecasts it's very easy for anyone to get a little depressed. But for some sun-worshippers this long, dark, and cold season can take a real toll on mind, body, and spirit.
"Noticing is your mood really changed and have you lost any desire to do things, your motivation is way down, you just want to sleep all the time, possibly eating more and craving more carbohydrates, not really feeling like yourself." Said Mary Dressing, a Licensed Professional Counselor of Mental Health with Avera.
These are the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. It's a type of depression that's often refereed to as the "Winter Blues."
"It has to do with light exposure and if were cooped up inside all the time and aren't getting what the body needs or the brain chemicals aren't functioning the way that they normally would during spring and summer then we just might need a little help from outside sources." Said Dressing.
Many SAD sufferers rely on extremely bright lights to mimic the effects of sunlight to help relax and revitalize.
"A lot of people need something a little extra during these darker months to get through." Said Leslie Cunningham a customer service representative with the Avera Living Well Center.
It may seem strange at first to spend quality time with a lamp but this therapy can literally brighten your day.
"People just put it on their office desk in the morning we do recommend that you do it in the morning not in the afternoon because it could make you lose some sleep and not be able to sleep as well during the night if you do it too late in the day." Said Cunningham.
SAD is nothing to take lightly, some people may also need anti-depressants to help cope. There are also nutraceutical supplements that can help.
"Over-the-counter products like St. John's Wort, Melatonin, Vitamin D, and the Omega 3 fatty acids those are available." Said Dressing.
These products may be over the counter but you should still see your doctor or pharmacist before using any supplement because they could react with other medications you may be taking. When it's cold it's very easy to want to stay indoors and do nothing, but on days where the sun is shining you can get some of that natural Vitamin D. So bundling up and going for a walk will make you and your body so much happier.
To many people the "Winter Blues" may seem like a minor problem or something they can treat on their own. While you don't need a prescription to buy or rent a 10,000 lux lamp or the over the counter supplements, Season Affective Disorder is not something you should blow off.
"If you noticed that it happens in consecutive days you have more down days than you have up days or you just kind of feel off just not like myself then it's worth checking it out." Said Dressing.
Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect people of all ages and if you would like more information Avera is hosting an informational talk Tuesday, January 29 from 6-7pm at Caribou Coffee at 26th Street and Minnesota Avenue.
For more information click here or call 877-AT-AVERA.