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Local Business

How to cope with seasonal depression and beat the winter blues

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Shorter days and cold, wet weather can drain your energy and leave you feeling blue.

Seasonal depression is a mood disorder that happens every year at the same time. In general, seasonal affective disorder starts in the fall or winter and ends in spring or early summer.

Research links seasonal depression to the natural hormone melatonin, which causes drowsiness. Light changes the amount of melatonin in your nervous system and boosts serotonin levels in your brain.

About 4 to 6 percent of people have winter depression.

Symptoms include sleeping more than usual, having less energy, losing interest in activities and difficulty concentrating. People with seasonal depression also can experience heaviness in the arms and legs, weight gain and relationship problems.

According to Sue Pavlovich of the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA), these tips could help. "Everyone's affected differently by SAD, so what works for one person won't for another," she says. "But there's usually something that will help, so don't give up if the first remedy you try doesn't work. Just keep trying."

Stay active

Research shows that daily walks can be helpful as light treatment. Spending one hour outside in the daylight can give you a boost of serotonin.

Keep warm

Being cold makes you more depressed, and studies show that staying warm can also reduce the winter blues by half. Keep your home between 64 and 70 degrees.

Eat healthy

A healthy diet will boost your mood, provide energy and prevent weight gain over the winter. Balance carbohydrates with plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Visit with friends and family

Socializing is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues. Keep in touch with people in the winter months and accept invitations to social events, even if you only go for a little while.

Plum Landing, a retirement community in Aurora, can help you beat the winter blues with activity programs, healthy dining options, social events like coffee hour and Bingo – and more!

Plum Landing, 495 North Lake Street, Aurora, IL 60506, 630-896-5031, www.plumlanding.org