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Family Matters 01/26/17

Seven Ways to Get Rid of the Winter Blues

Depressed woman lying in bed

Winter. It's cold (for most of us). You don't want to get out of bed. Lately, you've been craving carbs. It's hard to get motivated. You just want to hibernate!

You or someone in your family may have the winter blues. But, it could be more serious than that. Approximately 20 percent of people struggle to shake off feeling winter blues. Others may have a type of depression that begins to peak in the fall and winter called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). With this type of depression pattern, you feel better when spring arrives.

SAD can also take a Spring/Summer pattern as well. Both the winter and summer seasonal types of depression have to do with peoples' sensitivity to light -- those who get too little light (the fall/winter pattern), and those who get too much light (the spring/summer pattern). Light impacts our sleep-wake cycle and when that cycle is impaired, depression can result.

So while more people get the winter blues, about 7 percent of people experience SAD. It's also tied to latitude. The farther north you live, the less light you get in the winter.

What can you do if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder?

1. Lift your shades and let the sunlight into your home/office.

2. Don't wear sunglasses all of the time.

3. Bundle up and get outside. Do outdoor activities that expose you to natural light.

4. Consider trying a light box or dawn simulator. Talk to your mental health provider about how these devices work and the protocol to follow. (This helps many people.)

5. If you still feel depressed after trying these things, see a health care professional and be treated for depression in more conventional ways.

6. SAD symptoms can be confused with other medical conditions, so make sure you have a physical exam and are properly diagnosed.

7. Stay in the spiritual light as well. Meditate on Psalm 27:1:

The Lord is my light and salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life -- of whom shall I be afraid, He is our anchor and hope.

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