How to lift your spirits during the ‘SAD’ winter months

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SALEM, Ohio (WYTV) – Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, with many people feeling down around winter-time.

Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain the triggers feelings of sadness, hopelessness or tiredness.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is one specific type of depression. This disorder occurs in about three million Americans and is most common in women and the elderly in places that are cold and cloudy.

“I have a few patients that say, ‘Hey Doc., December is coming, December third, and it’s kind of my day. I know it’s coming.’ So that’s why we can plan ahead and treat that a little bit,” said family practitioner Michael Sevilla.

Sevilla said a lack of sunlight is the big culprit. He suggests for people to replace it with certain artificial lights.

“So 10,000 lux light, that’s kind of the magic number. Anything above that is fine. People sit between 10-12 inches from the light for about 30 minutes. It’s normally first thing in the morning. You don’t have to look directly at the light. People can be reading, people can be eating,” Sevilla said.

But, natural light isn’t the only way to help lift the spirits, it’s also a good idea to stay connected to family and friends.

“It’s really important, especially now if you can learn the computer, if you can learn to use the phone. If you can keep in contact with family through Facebook or other social media like that, I think it’s really helpful to people,” said Lisa Solley from the Area Agency on Aging.

Whether you suffer from SAD or not, your mood can be improved with a healthy lifestyle.

“So in addition to possible light therapy, to possible medications, yes, getting enough sleep, following your correct diet, getting some activity and exercise. That definitely helps depression symptoms in general,” Sevilla said.

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