LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - All the recent rain and the lack of sunshine may have many of us feeling out of sorts - be it moody, depressed, feeling anxious, or not motivated to exercise Some may say it's a sort of sadness. The clinical term for this emotional state is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.
“It's a condition that is related to the lower light levels in the winter months as well as the excessive cloudy days,” explained Debra K. Burton, PhD, who is a licensed professional counselor and family therapist.
SAD is also called winter depression. It generally begins in October or November and can last through April. It's generally associated to days when the sun's duration is shortest.
“What we think happens is that it affects our serotonin level, which is a neurotransmitter that impacts depression, and also melatonin, which raises at night, when we get sleepy,” Burton said.
She said if a person has experienced this type of depression during the last two winters, there should be some concern.
According to Burton and Websites WebMD and
, which bills itself as the Internet's largest and oldest independent mental health social network, anyone can get SAD, but it's more common in women, people who live in places where winter daylight are very short; people between ages 15 to 55 (The risk for SAD goes down as you get older.) and a person who has a close relative dealing with this type of depression..
To be certain, Burton suggested seeing your doctor first about your mood change.
“Sometimes, we do need to treat it. And exercise is another way to raise the serotonin level,” Burton said.
Then there's light therapy.
This type of therapy includes bright light treatment and light boxes that you can set up a certain distance from you. Burton said there are wearable visors that can also simulate sunshine. Both items can be found online. Local home builder stores also carry full-spectrum lights that can be used in your home to help illuminate rooms.
Another light therapy is called dawn simulation, where a dim light turns on while a person is asleep in the morning and gets brighter like a sunrise.
Until the sun shines more consistently, don't waddle in sorrow, see your doctor
But before you do anything, check with your doctor to make certain there's nothing medically wrong going on.