After weeks of snow, cold and ice, many folks are counting down the days until spring arrives. The dreary skies and conditions are causing many people to battle the winter blues. Whether you've lived in Michiana all your life or just spent a chunk of time here during the winter, you know the gray skies can be tough to get used to.
Low temperatures, combined with lack of sunshine are often a recipe for the winter blues. Local psychologists say they usually see a spike in patients this time of year. Some are diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder or SAD and treated with light therapy or antidepressants. But, for others who don't need clinical help, psychologists say exercise can also be a major mood booster.
Meantime, local travel agents say they have been busy this month booking sunny destinations, for people anxious to get away from the gray skies.
“When it's nice out, it’s not quite as busy here. If it's a snowstorm or cold, people are inside and call us all day long, they say 'get me out of here’ and we do!” says TCU Travel Agent, Wanda Meredith.
“People seem to lack energy, they have trouble getting going in the morning. Certainly here in our time zone, in the furthest reaches of the Eastern Time zone, it's dark until 8:30 in the morning at various times of the year,” says psychologist Dr. Hugh Van Auken of Mishawaka.
“Try to get out with friends more often, don't get stuck in the house where it's cold and boring, so get out and get more exercise,” says Peter Gedred, who was walking during his lunch break in downtown South Bend.
Although the holidays are long gone, weight gain can be a problem in the winter. The brain chemical, serotonin, regulates moods. Serotonin levels drop in the winter leading people to sometimes overeat.
Even though it's cold, Dr. Van Auken encourages people to get outside and try a winter sport or just walk outdoors. He says the natural light is something that is good for the body and mind.