Michelle Craig is the administrator for Green House Living for Sheridan.

 

Winter is upon us. Days are longer. The weather is dark, dreary and cold. During this time many people prefer to hunker down and hibernate; waiting for the bright, sunny days to return. However, it is important to tune into your body during this time to ensure you are not suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Even though it is common to feel more dispirited and rundown during the cold, wet months you could actually be suffering from S.A.D. during these months.

S.A.D. is a form of depression whose defining characteristic making it different is its duration. While clinical depression is typically ongoing but can gradually ease on its own or with the help of counseling or medication, S.A.D. is a season-based depression that usually resolves by the end of a season. It is most common to experience S.A.D. during the winter months, but other seasons may spark it also. The exact cause of S.A.D. is not known, but it is believed that changes in the length of the days and number of daylight hours negatively impacts the body’s circadian rhythms, thus decreasing the body’s serotonin levels that directly impact your mood.

Senior citizens seem to be more susceptible to experiencing S.A.D. because of the increased propensity of suffering from underlying conditions. Often those conditions are exacerbated by the cold weather, making seniors less likely to spend time outdoors during the daylight hours. Additionally, the use of chronic medications might also play a role in senior citizens, especially women, experiencing S.A.D. as they are more likely to be on a long-term drug regimen. The good news is S.A.D. does not always have to be treated with medications. S.A.D. can be combated by taking such steps as:

• Staying social, even if you don’t go outdoors.

• Keeping your curtains and blinds open to let in natural light.

• Exercise

• Stepping out for fresh air when weather allows.

• Work to prevent vitamin deficiencies through a health diet or supplements (consult your physician before implementing changes to diets or using vitamin supplements.)

As you can see, making changes to combat S.A.D. is relatively easy and mostly enjoyable. Edith Stillwell once said, “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” And that just might be all it takes to make this winter a good one.