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When it’s more than just the winter blues


In less than two weeks, we’ll once again set our clocks back one hour.

Between that and the approaching winter, it means even less sunshine and the vitamin D that comes with it.

As we head into the winter months, many people notice a shift in their mood.

And while it can be common to slip into a funk, for some people the lack of sunlight and Vitamin D can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder.

“Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that occurs in the fall and winter months. It has to last about two years prior to diagnosis,” said Heidi Pritzl, an Aspirus Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Change in appetite, lack of sleep, decrease in motivation, and isolation are all signs of SAD.

While all of us that live this far north of the equator are at risk of it, those with previous a diagnosis anxiety, depression, or other mental illness can be more susceptible.

Pritzl recommends talking to your primary care provider if you notice these symptoms and they impact your day to day life for long stretches of time.

“Being aware of Seasonal Affective Disorder and taking to primary care earlier if you’re concerned that maybe you had some of these symptoms that we discussed today since last year and you want to look at some preventative measures going into these fall and winter months,” she said.

For some cases, your doctor might recommend light therapy, vitamin D, or medications like antidepressants.

For many people, Pritzl has found focusing on routine helps a lot.

“We usually see change in sleep patterns, for example, going to bed at the same time and waking at the same time. Maybe increasing exercise and movement and looking at nutrition,” said Pritzl.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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