Today more winter weather is predicted to affect the Triangle area. And, although the sun is starting to come up a little earlier and stay out a little later these storms and cold winter are likely putting a damper on your moods. Dr. Jeffrey Childers, a WakeMed psychiatrist, shares information about seasonal depression, what to do to get yourself out of the doldrums and when you should think about seeking medical help.
If you find yourself in a temporary funk during the winter months, you are not alone. Millions of Americans experience seasonal depression – or Seasonal Affective Disorder – year after year. It is a type of depression caused in part by the shorter days and lack of daylight that accompanies winter.
While many people experience some form of the “winter blues,” it can become a serious issue if it consistently interferes with your ability to function. Like with other forms of depression, you should seek treatment if seasonal depression causes you to become less productive, skip work, withdraw from friends and family, and experience a lack of energy that prevents you from functioning normally.
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects both children and adults and can lead to more serious types of depression, including bi-polar disorder. The good news: it can be treated effectively with a mixture of therapy and medication. Increased exposure to daylight can help, too. Dr. Childers encourages those with seasonal depression to take advantage of bright sunny days and spend time outdoors. In severe cases, patients may undergo a special type of light therapy to counteract the lack of exposure to daylight.
The next time you find yourself struggling through a dark winter day, now you will know why. Get out in the sun and try to shake those winter blues. But if it becomes a prolonged situation that begins to affect your life, talk to your doctor about Seasonal Affective Disorder.