What do Snow and SAD have in Common?

Just when you felt you were trapped inside, snow, snow and more snow happens.

But, what can I expect living in Wisconsin!

I do love Wisconsin snow for you can have 6 inches and within an hour the roads are cleared and you are ready to drive. People are actually walking outside for exercise, as are their dogs. Wisconsinites are tough!

But for many, this time of year can be hard due to SAD-Seasonal Affective Disorder.

About 4 to 6 percent of people may have winter depression. Another 10 to 20 percent may have mild SAD. SAD is four times more common in women than in men. Although some children and teenagers get SAD, it usually doesn’t start in people younger than age 20. Your chance of getting SAD goes down as you get older.


The farther north you live the more vulnerable you are to have SAD. It starts in the fall and amps up through the winter months. Some even have it during the summer if they are inside majority of their day.

Symptoms of SAD are the following: weight gain; arms and legs feeling heavy; decreased energy level; change in appetite, such as craving sweet or starchy foods; headaches; stomachaches; increased fatigue; oversleeping; change in ability to concentrate; a change in behavior such as becoming more irritable; more sensitive to being socially rejected and eventually avoiding all social situations.

It is a real condition that leads to depression, feelings of hopelessness, and helplessness.

So what can you do about it? First see your doctor. Depression can have many causes and even having a low vitamin D level can be the culprit. Once diagnosed with SAD, treatment is light therapy. You can purchase a special light therapy box that you will sit in front of for about 30 minutes a day. If success with the light therapy, continue until more sun comes out in the springtime. If you stop light therapy and symptoms return, just resume.

Some rare side effects of light therapy can be eye strain, headache, and inability to sleep if used late in the day. Just don’t stare at the light; it can be directed anywhere in your direction. Don’t use tanning beds to treat SAD due to UV rays, which can harm eyes and skin.

So be proactive and seek help if feeling or noticing a pattern of depression during the time we have “light savings time” and when the days are darker. You may be suffering from SAD.

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