EAST LANSING - As winter comes around, and the days become shorter, people may start to find themselves feeling sad.
But this could be just a case of the winter blues, clinically known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
“Seasonal Affective Disorder is a major depressive disorder but with a seasonal pattern,” said Dr. Yan who is an Assistant Psychology Professor at Michigan State University.
And Kylie Rieces is just one among thousands others who experience this reoccurring sadness
“I feel happy, I feel normal, I like to go out, do and smile a lot and when winter comes it’s the opposite I don’t want to do anything,” Rieces said.
“I don’t want to hang out with my friends, I just want to sit at home and do nothing.”
Kylie who noticed she had SAD back in her teens said the disorder has affected the way she spends time with her family.
“I have a son so it's difficult because he wants to go out and do things,” Rieces said. “He's six year old, he's energetic and wants to play and I don’t want to do anything. I’m just not in the mood, or I’m sad.”
However come springtime, that sadness fades away.
Though there isn’t a definite cause of seasonal depression, researchers say it’s most likely caused by the lack of sunshine.
“Because in winter, there’s less light outside and because it's colder, we spend less time outdoors. And when we spend more time indoors, the indoor light isn’t as bright as outdoor so this light deficiency can call theses symptoms,” Yan said.
Some of the symptoms of SAD include tiredness or low energy, problems getting along with other people, weight gain, and trouble concentrating. However researches say spending time outside and getting fresh air during the first two hours you get up, can help combat the disorder.
But if fresh air doesn’t do it, Dr. Yan says light therapy may do the trick.
“The most common strategy for this condition is to use bright light therapy," she said. “There is this bright light box you can put in your bedroom, or office and that light box can reproduce light.”
But even though the disorder causes depression like symptoms, the sadness will not last forever.
“If winter is here, spring is not far away so there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Yan said. “Just be optimistic.”