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Tips on combating seasonal affective disorder

Posted at 10:13 PM, Nov 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-04 09:49:33-05

OMAHA, Neb. (kmtv) — "It really doesn't differ from regular depression. The only difference really is the time - the timecourse," Nebraska Medicine Psychiatrist Stephen Salzbrenner said.

Dark, cold and long winter days can impact anyone's mood, according Salzbrenner.

However, when your mental health starts to negatively change your daily routine moving into the winter months, - Salzbrenner says you could have seasonal affective disorder.

"Does it seem like life just isn't worth it anymore? Are you having those thoughts of ending it," Salzbrenner asked. "If that's happening you just need to see your doctor right away."

He added a change in diet and sleep habits, lack of interest and brain fog are a few other common symptoms with seasonal depression.

Nebraska medicine says about 33 million Americans deal with the winter blues.

Whether or not it's seasonal depression, many people have to make a change in the dark months to stay in check with their mental health.

"I try to workout three to four times per week, Omaha resident Dustin Oswald said. "If the sun is shining - try to get outside and absorb in some sunlight."

"In the winter months, I typically find that I am more depressed," Omaha resident Emilie Sothman said. "I go and I see a therapist and I really should try to exercise more."

Salzbrenner says vitamin B, B-12 and D are important, but the best way to combat the dark - is with light.

"The number one thing that you can do with seasonal affective disorder is maximize your exposure to natural light, not the fluorescent lights in your office," Salzbrenner said. "Being by a window is okay, but even that isn't really bright enough."

He adds try to maintain the same schedule during the winter, as you would during the summer.

Getting out of bed at a normal time and interacting with the world may not be easy if feeling sad, but Salzbrenner says it can help.

If you struggle getting enough natural light, Salzbrenner says there are light therapy boxes you can buy that are very effective.