Ways to Boost Your Mood, Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Spring is about 57 days away, which may have you feeling a bit down in the dumps.


Spring is about 57 days away, which may have you feeling a bit down in the dumps.

It's been one of the coldest winters on record, and one local psychologist said because of where we are located in Central Wisconsin, one in three adults are experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The disorder, also known as SAD, occurs at the same time every year because of lack of light exposure to our bodies, according to Behavioral Clinic of Wausau Dr. Katherine Wright.

Symptoms usually start in the fall, and continue into your winter months zapping your energy and making you feel depressed.

Sunshine and constant light are hard to find in the middle of our Central Wisconsin winter.

Knowing that summertime is still a long ways away could make you feel a bit depressed or maybe its the weather itself.

"Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very real disorder," Wright said.

Wright also said Seasonal Affective Disorder affects 33 percent of adults in Central Wisconsin, most of them being women.

"It (SAD) is very serious," Wright said. "It can be life threatening. People may become suicidal."

Wright said SAD happens when there's not enough light, for example, in the winter time when we get cooped up inside, to set off a gland in your brain to produce melatonin.

"We don't appreciate how severe that can feel, and how it (SAD) keeps some people imprisoned," Wright said.

So, she said to avoid SAD or adding to prior depression and anxiety you may already have, there's a couple ways to boost your mood, according to Wright and kimberlysnyder.net:

Smelling citrus can help, bright scents like lemons and oranges can lift your mood.
An International Journal of Neuroscience study shows peppermint aroma can perk you up.
Doing a good deed for another person makes us all feel a little bit better.
Setting realistic goals can help you boost your mood short and long term.
Most importantly, Wright said doing some exercise could help not only get your mind into shape but also your body.

"Some days when it's below zero (degrees), we don't really feel like it, but getting exposed to light is the most effective intervention," Wright said.

She also said playing upbeat music can help keep you in good spirits.

Wright said the disorder can be serious, but if you're serious about getting out of your winter funk, you could end up feeling happier, healthier, and of course, feeling good.

Wright also said that older people are more prone to the disorder.

She said before bed, make sure you relax your brain with a hot bath or quiet conversation.

The more our sleep cycle gets disrupted, the worse the depression can be.

You can also visit a doctor for medication too to treat SAD, but Wright said if you can keep busy and expose yourself to light without that, in the long run it could be better for your health.

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