Chasing the winter blues known as SAD

Watch report from Action News
February 4, 2014 8:46:06 PM PST
If the snowy, dreary weather has you down, you have plenty of company. Winter is prime time for what's known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

You hear the comments daily.

"We had enough. It's time for it to stop," says Reginald Newmith of North Philadelphia.

He's one of so many in our area tired of the season, tired of the snow and the gloomy, grey skies.

For some, it is causing the so-called winter blues.

"Miserable, bored, can't come out," says Debbie Stewart of Kensington.

Dr. Mahendra Bhati, a Penn Medicine psychiatrist, says the medical term Seasonal Affective Disorder isn't an actual, stand alone diagnosis.

But it is widely accepted that shorter, darker days can put a damper on someone's mood, especially some women.

"Women are four times at risk for seasonal affective disorder than men, particularly women of child bearing age," says Dr. Bhati.

That can include women ages 15 to 44.

While we can't do anything about Mother Nature, there are some easy remedies to prevent or lessen the blues.

Doctor Bhati says bright light therapy, if used correctly, can be as effective as an anti-depressant.

He also recommends trying to stay active.

"I can't underscore the importance of trying to maintain as consistent and as active of a lifestyle as possible during the darker, shorter drearier winter months that we have in the Northeast," he says.

Sleep is also believed to play a big role.

Try to stick to a regular schedule. Adults need seven to eight hours.

And think about what you're most looking forward to once the seasons change.

"The shore, definitely," says Maura Hayden of Manayunk.

"I am looking forward to summertime, the hot sun and I can get out without all this heavy stuff on- no coat, no jacket, no hat, no scarf, nothing," adds Donna Daniels.

SAD doesn't usually require a doctor's attention.

However, if you notice any of these signs, it is time to talk with a mental health professional:

* If your sadness or low- motivation is affecting your job or relationships

* If your sleeping or eating pattern changes

* If you have feeling of hopelessness or any suicidal thoughts.

Mental health resources:

* Penn Behavioral Health.

* Healthy Minds Philly

*Einstein Behavioral Health

*New Jersey Health and Human Services.

*Delaware Mental Health.


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