Shorter, colder days can lead to seasonal depression

Seasonal affective disorder may require light therapy or anti-depressants.

Dave LeMote wipes down a post clock at Electric Time Company, Inc. in Medfield, Mass., Friday, March 7, 2014. Most Americans will set their clocks 60 minutes forward before heading to bed Saturday night, but daylight saving time officially starts Sunday at 2 a.m. local time (0700GMT). (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A sure sign of the end of daylight saving time was Monday’s sunset at 4:42 PM: well before many people were even out of work.

If you feel depressed in the long winter months due to a lack of sunshine and warm weather, you are not alone.

“I don’t like that it gets dark early at all. At all,” said Tracy Sawicki of West Springfield.

It was great on Sunday morning for many people who had an extra hour of sleep due to the end of daylight saving time. However, it wasn’t so great when they realized the sun set an hour earlier that night.

“I usually walk in the evenings and I had to go much earlier, but this morning it was kind of nice getting up and having light when I go to the gym at 6,” Sawicki said.

While it takes just a couple days to adjust to the time change, the increasing darkness can lead to seasonal depression. Dr. Benjamin Liptzin, chair of psychiatry for Baystate Medical Center, told 22News some people have seasonal depression so severe, they’re diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder.

“Be aware if you have less energy, less interest, you’re just not enjoying things, you may have to push yourself and it could be due to the changing seasons, said Dr. Liptzin. He said light therapy at home can help simulate the comfort of the Sun and brighten your mood.

Special light therapy boxes can cost hundreds of dollars but 22News found a way you can get the same effect for much less. For about $20 at most hardware stores, you can find plant grow lights. If you put it in a fluorescent light fixture, it will give you the same effect as those expensive boxes. That’s according to recommendations from Westfield State University.

Dr. Liptzin said others diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder may be prescribed anti-depressants. He said this feeling is common in the Northeast and also in Northern Europe. There, it’s common for people from Scandinavian countries to move to the Mediterranean for winter months.

Some in Western Massachusetts said they weren’t affected by the cold, dark weather. They find beauty in each of the four seasons.

“I get up in the morning. I’m above ground. I’m happy,” said Tony Sacco of West Springfield.

To keep that positive attitude, it’s advised to have a healthy diet, exercise and keep routines, no matter how difficult that may seem. You can also count down to the start of spring or plan a summer trip to have something to look forward to.

Comments are closed.