Watch out for symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

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With a blanket of snow covering the Chippewa valley, gray skies, and bitter temperatures feeling a little 'blue' these days is not uncommon.
But health experts say pay attention to those symptoms.

Winter blues could be more serious than just feeling kind of ‘bluh’.

“When we see winters like we're having right now we could definitely see it more often,” said Nurse Practitioner Behavior Health with Sacred Heart Hospital Cara Helmer.

People having mental health issues like Seasonal Affective Disorder, is somewhat familiar feeling to some Wisconsinites.

“Just less energy, not wanting to get out of the bed, not wanting to do a lot of things,” explained Eau Claire native Brian Hahn.

“Just hibernation in general,” added Cathy Nyseth of Eau Claire.

“When you're feeling that the symptoms are affecting your daily life or your ability go to work, go to school, maintain relationships; you want to address that,” said Helmer.

She also says in this part of the country every 2 in 10 people could have it.

“It happens during the same time of the year, over the course of 2-3 years,” said M.D. Psychiatrist with Marshfield Clinic Mahmoud Ahmed.

Experts say the disorder is treatable.

“We want to mimic natural sunlight as much as possible and some people require a light box,” explained Helmer.

Light therapy, an exposure to 10000 lux lights for at least a half-hour every morning is a powerful treatment.

Mayo Clinic Pharmacy and Home Medical Store says the daylight lamps are a popular item in the month of February; they're selling out right now at the rate of 2-4 a week.

In some cases anti-depressants could be prescribed but Dr. Ahmed says you can start managing symptoms at home by eating healthier and getting enough sleep.

“Part of the treatment of the Seasonal Affective Disorder is increase activity; stop picking up your chocolates, stop the sweets, stops that,” he added.

Experts say sometimes Seasonal Affective Disorder could be as serious as having suicidal thoughts, so it's important to seek help right away

If you have a prescription for a day light lamp, check with your health provider before buying because some insurance policies do cover it.

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