Column: Beat the winter blues with light, exercise

10:48 AM, Jan. 25, 2013  |  Comments
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Wisconsin winters as we all know are very unpredictable. It is one of the four seasons that gives us a plethora of snow, ice, rain along with many other fun things.

Along with the changing weather, winter has its way of giving some people the winter blues. The medical term for winter blues is seasonal affective disorder. This condition can be treatable with a full recovery.

Winter blues affects women much more than men and has a tendency to develop when a person enters adulthood. Increased concern is focused on people with a history of depression and the non-active elderly.

As the seasons change, the hours of light get shorter and darkness gets longer. This decreased light exposure might cause a person to remain inside where they begin to isolate themselves. It is only when spring and summer arrive that the winter-blues struck person begins to emerge from this isolation.

So how can you tell if somebody has the winter blues? Well, for some people it might be difficult if they already suffer from some form of depression year round. However, a few signs to look for would be a deeper depression, a craving for sweets, an increased lack of energy and an increased need for sleep. These symptoms might begin to occur in early to mid-fall and tend to subside in spring when the days get longer.

If you or somebody you know suffers from the winter blues, you might be able to try a few things to aid in recovery. The biggest and easiest thing to do is to get outside and soak up some sun. Even if it is overcast, the sun's rays will still reach you and give you the light you need.

If you have the extra money, a light box might be beneficial in attaining the light rays that your body needs to function.

Other things you might try would be eating right and exercising. If more invasive treatment is required, therapy along with medication might help stabilize your mood.

It is important during the winter months to help others beat the winter blues. Elderly and other disadvantaged persons have increased difficulty getting out of the house due to the unsafe conditions and lack of support. Staying inside tends to be safer for people but at a price of getting the blues. Take the time to visit an elderly or disadvantaged friend. A simple visit can make a huge difference in the way a person feels. Also, getting these people outside for a few minutes could also help treat the winter blues.

The best thing to do to avoid the winter blues is to be aware of how you and others feel. It is easier to prevent something when you know what to look for than to treat something when it is already bad.

Just remember, get your exercise and soak up some sun when you can. Good luck and best wishes during the winter months from the staff at Stoney River Assisted Living.

Michele Norrbom is communications director at Stoney River Assisted Living in Marshfield. She can be reached by phone at 715-305-2847 or by email at mnorrbom@stoneyriverwebcom.

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