Seasonal depression

Michigan hasn't seen a brutal winter season, but the gloomy days could still leave you feeling down in the dumps. For others, it can be more serious and lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder.

During winter, days are short, skies are often grey, and many Michiganders' mental state could be affected.​

“A lot of people don’t know, but southeastern Michigan has the second least amount of direct sunlight in the continental United States,” said James Dearlove, psychotherapist.

In fact, TV5’s First Warn Five weather team says in the past three months, Saginaw has had 77 days without sunlight and doctors say less sunlight means less of the chemical dopamine in our brain and that affects our mood.

“This time of year, with the shorter days, many people are prone to affecting their moods,” Dearlove said.

"When the ice come and the weather change, it can make you feel a little bit down and depressed," said Calvin Skinner, a Michigan resident.

Along with feeling depressed, other signs and symptoms include:

  • Low energy
  • Sleeping problems
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Changes in appetite and weight 

“As a person grows depressed they’ll grow more irritable, short with others, decreased interest in things they used to like to be involved in, all of your symptoms of your depression,” Dearlove said.

For treatment, some turn to medication or phototherapy. You can break the mold by being more proactive. 

Dearlove said the key is changing your routine and behavior.

“Oftentimes when you’re starting getting that behavioral, that structure, you’re already doing something good for yourself by making plans whether it’s light therapy or meeting someone for coffee, you’re getting out of the house,” Dearlove said.

Doctors said depression cycles can continue year after year. If it happens to you, it’s best to get ahead of it.

If symptoms continue, it may be time to see your doctors.

But no matter what season it is, doctors said it’s important to look after your physical and mental well-being.

Copyright 2020 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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