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More than just the blues?

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GINA R. HEINE
February 25, 2008
— All the snow and cold making you feel a little blue? A little S.A.D.?

With record snowfalls and school-closing cold, it’s no surprise the weather might be getting to you.


About 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from the “winter blues,” said Dr. Ann Callison, a psychiatrist at Mercy Walworth. About 1 percent to 2 percent more suffer from seasonal affective disorder, she said.


This winter’s somewhat unusual weather hasn’t seemed to affect the number of reported cases, she said.


“People are grumpy about the weather, but I don’t think I’ve seen an increase in the number of new cases,” she said. “But people do want to have spring.”


Callison offered these tips and information:


-- SAD is a seasonal depression, usually occurring in winter. It is a disabling illness that prevents people from functioning normally.


“It’s more than just having a case of the ‘blahs’ or blues,” Callison said. “Most people start to feel better in March or April.”


-- The winter blues is a more mild form that doesn’t require treatment with medication or light therapy. It, however, can interfere with relationships or coworkers.


-- Winter depression includes low interest, guilt, depressed mood, excessive irritability, appetite and weight changes and dark and suicidal thoughts.


-- Women are more likely to have SAD than men.


-- SAD is treated with medication or light therapy.


“There may be some benefit from regular exercise or having a routine schedule with a regular wake-up and bedtime,” Callison said.


-- If you’re concerned you have SAD, Callison recommends seeing a mental health or primary care physician for an evaluation.



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