Cold, snowy weather can cause mental health disorder - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Cold, snowy weather can cause mental health disorder

Indianapolis, IN -

The cold and snow is taking its toll on many of us as we declare "snoverload" saying we're "snover" it.

But snow fatigue and the depression that it generates can result in a legitimate medical condition. Fatigue could turn into Seasonal Affective Disorder, appropriately abbreviated as SAD.

SAD is prompted by long absences of direct, bright sunlight. Doctors say when it's cold and cloudy for such a long stretch, people are forced to stay cooped up inside or bundle up outside. You can't get to your normal activities, and that leads to the crankiness and depression. That can be just the beginning of SAD.

"Sometimes, they really crave carbohydrates and they eat more than they normally do, sleep more than they normally do," said Kimble Richardson, a licensed therapist from Community Health Network. "Their mood is either cranky or depressed, and in really severe cases, they might even feel suicidal. And, of course, that's an emergency situation." 

But, there are some simple fixes that can try on your own for mild cases.

Kimble recommends exercise. "Stay with your normal routine. try to connect with your social support system. Something honestly that's been shown to have an effect on people's mood is try to wear bright colors. For example, what I'm wearing today, try to think of something that wouldn't be dreary," said Richardson.

Certainly warm thoughts of brighter days, fun in the sun, relaxing on the beach, can be mood lifters. Exercise and connecting with friends and loved ones for a little fun activity can also help.

But if you notice any of these signs in yourself or loved one, you need to get more help: sluggishness, round-the-clock sleeping, despair that lasts for weeks straight, or suicidal thoughts.

In those cases. you need to see a doctor. Licensed therapist Kimble Richardson says under a doctor's advice, you can use a very specific type of artificial light. There are light boxes you can buy for a little light therapy to start or end your day on. But, counseling or medication may also be in order for more severe cases.

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