The arrival of more snow and even colder weather ensures more Iowans will be spending still-more time inside. While the winter blahs can bring on cabin fever, psychiatrist Doctor Todd Stull says it can develop into more than just the blues. Stull says winter can bring on Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
Stull says "It’s a type of depression that happens more commonly in the winter months or when there is less amount of daylight and it’s more common in winter and it’s more common the further you get away from the equator." Stull says about a half-million people in the U-S suffer from winter depression.
He says "It’s not only a depressed mood but they are tired and they want to eat more, especially carbohydrates and I think the big distinguishing factor is that it really interferes with their routine and their quality of life and their functional abilities."
Stull says in severe cases, anti-depression medication is necessary. He says many people are seeing success by using special lamps that fool the body into thinking it’s getting enough natural sunlight. He says "They have to sit in front of this lamp anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours a day. You don’t have to look into the lamp but you have to be in front of the lamp so it can stimulate certain parts of your brain to make chemicals that can alleviate the symptoms."
The lamps can cost $300. Other symptoms of winter depression include: loss of interest in activities, weight gain, a drop in energy levels, a tendency to oversleep and irritability.