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Beating Winter Blues
February 7, 2014

Eyewitness News Reporter Darrah Wilcox While it's normal to feel a little "blue" in the winter months, those feelings can develop into a more serious condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Common symptoms can include
-lack of interest in normal activities
-social withdrawal
-weight gain
-craving carbohydrates

Charley Bowen, a psychologist at the Counseling Center at Cabell Huntington Hospital said, carbs like chips, pretzels, and sweets increase serotonin.

"The body's actually craving that because it wants to increase the serotonin production in the brain," he said.

SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance caused by lack or sunlight in the winter months. Reduced production of serotonin and possibly increased levels of melatonin, which is a sleep-related hormone, have both been linked to SAD.

SAD generally affects women more than men, and the most common age range is 18-30, but it anyone can be affected.

Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms.

Exercise can help, even if it's walking on a treadmill. "That's going to help getting your heart rate up, it still definitely going to help you feel better physically and also mentally," said Bowen.

If the sun is shining, get outside, or at least let some sunlight in. "Arrange furniture in spaces office or home so you can get as much sunlight as possible," said Bowen.

A special type of light therapy can also help. "If you sit by in between 30-90 minutes a day it helps increase mood," said Bowen.

An anti-depressant could also help. If you're just looking to get out of a funk, try switching up your routine. "Involve family, maybe have a family game night, or do something that you get people around you that you love and you care about and that brighten your spirit some." said Bowen.

If the feelings don't go away, don't wait to talk to your doctor.

Copyright ©2014 WCHS-TV Eyewitness News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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