Fighting seasonal depression as days get shorter - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Fighting seasonal depression as days get shorter

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

The days are shorter and the weather is colder. That may have you feeling down lately, but is it just a case of the wintertime blues, or could you be experiencing seasonal depression?

Experts say up to 20 percent of people have Seasonal Affective Disorder.

However, even though we can't make the sun shine longer every day, we can take steps to make sure we don't fall victim to depression.

There's some ice on the lake and snow on the ground, but the sun was out in the Heartland on Thursday.

"This is a gorgeous day,” Terri Welker said.

Welker and her grandson were out at the park enjoying the brisk, but sunny day.

"This is a perfect day to get away from the winter blahs that are going to be on their way very soon I'm afraid,” Welker said.

Our time with the sun every day is only getting shorter. As that happens, experts say it's likely to put us in a wintertime funk.

"There's a change in people's chemistry, body chemistry and mental chemistry as a result of the changes in the light,” said Psychologist David Van Pelt, with Applied Psychological Center.

Dr. Van Pelt said that can do more than just leave us feeling down.

"It's more than just the winter blues, they kind of come and go but the seasonal affective disorder is something that's a little longer lasting and has a deeper impact,” Dr. Van Pelt said.

Dr. Van Pelt said there are ways to combat both the blues and the disorder.

He suggests getting rid of stress by cleaning and decluttering the house, get as much sun as you can whether that's outside or by a window, stay healthy with diet and exercise, socialize with family and friends, and wear bright colors.

"Things you can do for the mind, body, and soul,” Dr. Van Pelt said.

So, while we may not be able to get rid of the snow or bring back the green on the trees, it's important to enjoy the sunshine we do get on those short winter days.

"It's good that we can get outside today,” Welker said.

Dr. Van Pelt said if you notice yourself feeling depressed this winter, you should try talking with a friend or family member. He said if symptoms persist, don't hesitate to speak with a mental health professional.

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