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This month at the Kid Clinic: Feeling SAD this winter?

This month at the Kid Clinic: Feeling SAD this winter?

Do you get the winter blues? That feeling when you are tired more often than not, feel like your energy has been drained, perhaps you're a bit more moody than usual, or you're just not going out with friends or family like you had been in the summer. You may be one of more than 3 million people a year who experience seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression that is related to seasonal changes. Most often symptoms of SAD appear in the fall and continue throughout the winter months. Signs of SAD include:

  • Appetite changes, especially cravings for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Irritability or problems getting along with other people
  • Oversleeping or tiredness/low energy
  • Weight gain

Living in Wyoming, we may see a few more people experiencing SAD than those who live closer to the equator because we enjoy fewer hours of sunlight during the winter. Women and younger people have a higher risk of experiencing SAD in the winter, as do people who have a family history of relatives with depression or SAD. The good news is that you don't have to tough it out on your own. Here are some easy steps to keep your mood and energy during the winter.

  1. Get outside. That's right—grab a friend or family member (or, even a pet) and get outside. You could go for a walk, go ice fishing, or any other outdoors winter activity you enjoy. During those sunnier winter days, take a few minutes and sit on a bench to soak up some sun.
  2. Exercise regularly. Being physical helps relieve stress and anxiety, both of which increase SAD symptoms. Consider joining a gym, going for daily walks (or skiing, snowshoeing), taking the family sledding, hitting the stairs at your office, or streaming some exercise videos from home. Being fit can also help you feel better about yourself, which can also improve your mood.
  3. Socialize. Make an effort to be around people you enjoy being with. You can invite people to attend local events, meet for coffee or dinner, or simply pick up the phone to call a friend or family member you haven't talked with for a while. The people you love can offer necessary support when you are feeling a little low.
  4. Take a walk on the alternative side. Some might be more interested in checking out some alternative or nonconventional approaches to dealing with SAD as well. These can include acupuncture, massage therapy, meditation, Pilates or yoga, and taking supplements.
  5. Get treatment. There are a few treatment options for those experiencing SAD, including light therapy, medications and talk therapy. Please consult with your doctor if you need help selecting the option that is right for you.

And, please remember that it's normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can't get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, schedule an appointment with your doctor. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger because of thoughts of suicide call 911 NOW. If you need someone to talk with about your suicidal feelings, please do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255).

The Kid Clinic is a school-based pediatric clinic offering medical care and counseling services for Campbell County students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and their siblings over the age of 2. It is located at 800 Butler Spaeth Rd., across from St. Matthew’s Catholic Church. The Kid Clinic is open Monday-Friday from 8 am-5 pm. For more information, call 307-688-8700 or visit www.cchwyo.org/kidclinic.

The Kid Clinic is a collaborative effort between Campbell County Health and Campbell County School District.

This blog was written by Carie Rose, PCSW