Feel Good with Fox43
Saying goodbye to the sun and hello to shorter days can leave people feeling sad. That sadness could be more than just the "winter blues." Doctors say you could be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D.
Dr. Allen Miller, the Director of Wellspan Behavioral Health says there are real physical things that happen as a result of the reduction of sunlight.
"People experience reduced energy and reduced interest in doing things they normally enjoy doing."
S.A.D leaves more than 11 million people across the United States sad and even depressed during the fall and winter months.
Dr. Miller says everyone has winter blues a little bit, but not everyone has S. A.D.
"The kinds of things that people experience these months, is very similar to what anybody else who says they have depression have."
What can you do when the doom and gloom approach? Fitness expert, Mindy Quesenberry with My Fitness Quest says it can be very easy to fall into an unhealthy pattern.
"As the daylight diminishes, we want to go home, we want to stay inside and then what happens is it becomes a vicious cycle and a regular routine.
So, experts say the key here may be to stay proactive.
Quesenberry says, "we prepare our cars, our homes, everything for the season to come-- yes? You have to prepare your body. You also have to prepare your mind."
Dr. Miller says there is a way to be proactive if you know you suffer from S.A.D.
"People who know ahead of time that they've had Seasonal Affective Disorder in the past year will start taking an anti-depressant at the beginning of September, so that they have it loaded in."
If anti-depressants aren't for you, there are natural options. From Tryptophan to Omega-3's, Naturopath Dan Duryea says these vitamins can help increase your mood as well.
Duryea says he has used these options for many years with patients who have battled with depression or S.A.D. He says they have had fantastic results.
But of course, the most natural aide in combating S.A.D. is just getting up and moving away from your winter routine.
Dr. Miller says you have to get moving.
"What I want you to do is the last thing you want to do and that is get up and move around and exercise as much as you possibly can."
Quesenberry says that movement will increase your endorphins which will make you feel better.
While the winter months may seem to linger for an eternity, Dr. Miller says there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
"Some people come in and say 'it's like they turned the lights back on. You know, I feel better'."
More information on Dan Duryea's natural methods of combating S.A.D.:
Details of workouts Mindy Quesenberry recommends while transitioning to the winter months: