Along with snow come winter woes

Winter just isn’t a wonderland for all of us, especially those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

by Paige Vigil

I have never dreamt of a white Christmas or thought, âÄúLet it snow, let it snow, let it snow.âÄù The lights are beautiful, the hot chocolate is tasty and the music festive, but the weather during the winter season is a completely different story. The freezing temperatures, gusting winds and harsh pellets of sleet are things I begin to dread upon the first sight of snow. Even the majestic white flakes that float down from the sky eventually turn into puddles that slosh on our sneakers and soak our socks. While I wouldnâÄôt categorize myself as a scrooge, I wouldnâÄôt say that I enjoy winter âÄî either; and I am not alone. The frigid air is a welcome change from the humidity for some, but for others, that is just not the case. The cause of the winter woes is not because you caught mommy kissing Santa Claus; itâÄôs just that for some of us, our moods change with the change of the seasons âÄî and not for the better. States that are located in higher latitudes have higher rates of depression over the winter months due to the shorter days, lack of sunlight and harsher conditions. The sky seems constantly overcast. But there are enjoyable aspects of winter. I am a big fan of decorating my Christmas tree, attending the parades and baking cookies, but the negatives of the season definitely outweigh the positives. This is a topic in which I see the glass being half empty. The best part about winter is when it is over. WebMD says that the âÄúwinter woesâÄù affect a total of 25 percent of adults. Of those adults, only 1 percent of the population in Florida is affected. Maybe the geese are smart in flying south for the winter. Half of the northern populations are affected by the winter woes; therefore, if you arenâÄôt feeling as peppy throughout these next few dredged months, you are not alone. Symptoms of the winter woes include but are not limited to tiredness, anxiousness, moodiness, difficulty waking up âÄî worst of all âÄî weight gain. Not only are you feeling sluggish, but those Christmas cookies start to weigh you down as well. The average American will gain five to six pounds over the winter. All the work we do to whip our bikini bods into shape for the summer is reduced to a trade for seasonal snacking come winter. As inhabitants of Minnesota, weâÄôve been coined Minnesotans, but I think, âÄúMinne-snow-tansâÄù may be more appropriate. Last year we received almost 50 inches of snow. As I see it, the more snow we get, the gloomier the weather and the gloomier our attitudes. The consistency of all 50 inches of snow was not âÄústicky,âÄù either. Most of it melted away in day leaving only slosh in its place. You cannot make snow angels in slosh, and you certainly cannot turn a puddle into a snowman. While winter is simply woeful for some, for others its literally depressing. If you experience chronic symptoms of depression starting in the winter or fall months, you could be a victim of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Mayo Clinic reports the symptoms of SAD as anxiety, hopelessness, energy loss, oversleeping, appetite changes, withdrawal and difficulty processing information, among others. MayoâÄôs advice on when to seek helps says, âÄúItâÄôs normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you canâÄôt seem to get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is particularly important if you notice that your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, think about suicide or find yourself turning to alcohol for comfort or relaxation.âÄù Treatments for the winter woes or for SAD range from simple to complex. If you are experiencing a moment of sadness, has numerous ideas on how to yank yourself out of the rut. Decorating your house with warm colors like reds is supposed to warm your spirit. Also, eating healthy, not replacing the base of your food pyramid with cookies will help you ward of weight gain. Of course, we canâÄôt forget exercise. Keeping up with your summer routine will surely give you the extra determination you need to go Christmas caroling. A trick of mine to help expel myself from an interlude of misery is to give something back to my community by visiting people who could use the extra love. In previous years, I have visited the elderly as well as the veteranâÄôs hospital. Not only does helping people and giving love to others make me feel good about myself, but it also makes me feel thankful âÄî thankful for not only the people I have in my life, but the health and wellness that I have been blessed with. Sometimes painting a wall, eating right or exercising might just not cut it. Treatment for SAD can involve two different treatment options, including light therapy (photo therapy) and medication. Light therapy is a very common and effective way to treat more severe cases of melancholy, because a main cause of SAD is that your body is not retaining as much light from the winter season as it did in the summer. Therefore, a light box is used for short amounts of time to mimic sunlight and give the body the extra boost it is craving. Of course, as with many other types of depression, medication can be a helpful, short-term fix as well. If you are like me and dread the start of Jack Frost nipping at your nose, remember, youâÄôre not alone. Take action now to help prevent a case of the winter woes. Paige Vigil welcomes comments at [email protected].