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UNO psychologist says winter is bringing down morale, fueling seasonal affective disorder

Posted at 10:28 PM, Feb 25, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As temperatures continue to fall, so is morale. Winter has been taking an emotional toll on students at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

A psychologist has some advice until temperatures start to warm up.

Inside the H&K building on campus, psychologist Dr. Charlene Patterson has been meeting with a handful of students and staff at a crucial time of the year.

"It can be very impactful given the snow and freezing weather," Dr. Patterson said. "I think people have been stuck."

Patients meet in her office thanks to UNO CAPS, which stands for Counseling and Psychological Services. Dr. Patterson says as students make their way through the day, seasonal affective disorder can be taking a severe toll this winter.

"We don't get as much sunlight and we enjoy being warm, lighter clothing," Dr. Patterson said. "We're bundled up and it's tough getting ready for the day"

Mental Health America says about five percent of the U.S. population experiences seasonal depression every year. Four out of five of them are women.

For those feeling down, Dr. Patterson suggests exercise to improve your mood. If you aren't active, simply striking up conversations with neighbors and coworkers can help you feel connected.

Dr. Patterson also recommends resources found at She also suggests breathing exercises. Closing your eyes and taking a few minutes to calm down can go a long ways at the office or classroom.

More information about CAPS for UNO students and staff can be found here.

"People have been stuck in their homes," Dr. Patterson said. "We can be surprised at how removing ourselves can impact us."

"Emotions aren't rational, so they can appear at any time and ambush us in ways that would surprise us."