Seasonal sadness isn’t just a winter fad

Finally, when the weather got warmer this past week, I could not wait to go outside. Of course, though, it rained. Right around this time of year, staring out the window at the frigid outdoors can be downright depressing. Aside from a beautiful fresh layer of brilliant white snow, I think we can all pretty much agree that salt-covered roads or a sleet-filled afternoon is not our favorite view. These cold-weather blues that we are feeling, though, are not just a myth. According to recent studies, doctors are finding that seasonal depression is rooted in biology and nutrition.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood ailment that features depressive symptoms that can occur during the darker seasons of the year. So no, your mopey mood right now could be based on more than just the fact that Christmas isn’t for a whole year. Since the days are shorter and being outdoorsy right now usually constitutes with losing feeling in your fingers, toes or nose due to the cold, us Milwaukee folk are getting much less sunlight than during the summer months. Sunshine provides the human body with its main source of Vitamin D, which helps with calcium digestion and also aids in serotonin production in the brain. Without the extra dose of outdoors, your body isn’t exposed to as much sun, limiting Vitamin D intake. This lack of Vitamin D leads some people to experience symptoms of depression.

No wonder bears hibernate all winter; who wants to feel down for months at a time? Luckily, this issue has a solution. Everyone, we’re all moving to Florida. Go. No? Oh, okay. I don’t much like alligators anyway. Kidding, but despite the cold weather, getting outside as much as possible can improve your mood. I’m not recommending that you lie outside in your swimsuit these days, but a walk around the block could prove beneficial. Also, Vitamin D supplements are available over the counter at the drug store. Don’t overdo the supplementing, though, too much Vitamin D can backfire. Ask your doctor what a healthy amount to take would be.

Marquette has plenty of resources to help out with depression and other mental issues. The Employee Assistance Program through the university offers support and counseling for employees with mental instabilities. If needed, don’t be afraid to reach out. The clinics throughout the EAP are confidential and available to help.

It’s nice to know that we don’t have to let SAD impede on our lives. Like all mental disorders, though, depression, whether it be SAD or not, should be taken seriously. It’s also extremely nice to know that winter will soon be over; we will all be enjoying the Milwaukee summer soon enough. But until then, don’t let the cold bring you down.

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