Do the Winter Blues Have You Feeling Sad? Here’s What You Can Do

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CBN News

This time of year, millions of Americans suffer from the so-called “Winter Blues,” or the more serious Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as “SAD,” a medically recognized form of depression. These conditions affect people who say they feel good most of the year, but report feeling gloomy and lazy during the winter.

In most of the United States, at the height of winter, people receive about five hours a day less sunlight than during the peak summer days. The reduced sunlight during the winter can negatively impact mental health. An estimated 20% of Americans suffer from the “Winter Blues,” while an additional five percent have Seasonal Affective Disorder.

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Doctors say seasonal mental health challenges are more common in women and the further north a person lives.

“Folks with this tend to have a lot more negative thoughts about the wintertime,” Cleveland Clinic Psychologist Dr. Dawn Potter told CBN News. “They tend to have a lot more vegetative symptoms, which means it’s kind of like hibernating, like slowing down, so sleeping more, eating more, having lower energy and we don’t always see that in other forms of depression.”

Experts say a lack of sunlight can reduce our levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness. At the same time, it can cause an overproduction of melatonin, a chemical that makes us feel sleepy. To help correct this imbalance, some recommend light therapy, which provides a sun substitute.

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“I think light therapy is great. Unlike taking a medication, it is less likely to have side effects,” said Dr. Potter.

She recommends sitting in front of a light box for some light therapy about 30 minutes in the morning.

“You can do this while you’re getting ready for your day, while you’re eating your breakfast, watching the news,” said Dr. Potter.

A light box does not require a prescription. It should be specifically designed for light therapy and ideally have a power of 10,000 Lux.

To read the full story, visit our content partners at CBN News.

Reprinted with permission from Copyright © 2024 The Christian Broadcasting Network Inc. All rights reserved.

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