Season Affective Disorder and The Winter Solstice

December 22, 2017 05:02 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Often times during the winter months people crave the sunlight. To make matters worse, Thursday marked the Winter Solstice which is the shortest day of the year. ABC 6 News reporter Marissa Collins explains if you're feeling down, you're not alone. But there are ways to feel better.  

"It seemed like it was earlier this year than normal," said Karen Tracy. 


A seasonal disorder Karen Tracy has had since the mid-1990's. It's called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. 

"It's like a subtype of a recurrent mood disorder and typically major depressive disorder," said Dr. Craig Sawchuk.

Dr. Craig Sawchuk is a clinical psychologist at Mayo Clinic. He says he usually sees patients with SAD during the Fall or Winter months. A typical symptom is when someone's mood starts to decline. Karen says that's just one of her symptoms.

"I don't normally have a sweet tooth, but when my SAD kicks in I can't get enough of sweets, so I know that's one of my first symptoms," said Karen. "I am married and I'm really irritable with my husband and that's another one of my symptoms is irritability."

Dr. Sawchuk says he also sees the number of people thinking about suicide go up. 

"With the seasonal depression kind of kicking in, can amplify that further," he said.

Heather Geerts, the Director of Clinical Services at Zumbro Valley Health Center has seen that as well.

"There's a higher propensity of somebody to commit suicide or to have a relapse in their mental illness," said Geerts.

So if you're someone who may feel down during this time of year...

"Just realize that we're not alone and that helps a lot," said Karen. 

Here's what can be done.

"Light therapy is one of the remedies or one of the treatments," said Geerts. 

A therapy Karen has been using for years.

"I do it in the morning. mine actually hangs on the wall as like a picture frame," she said.   

"Planning social outings, getting together with people so we're kind of building some of that social support," said Dr. Sawchuk. 

"There is help out there for us. we don't have to struggle with this alone," said Karen. 



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