From mid-October through March, the amount of daylight hours declines, amounting to a disruption in our body’s daily rhythm. Increased melatonin in our bodies can lead to what’s known as winter blues.
Dr. Angeline Stanislaus is Chief Medical Director for the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
“Get outside and go get sunlight,” Stanislaus said. “It’s very, very critical. Usually a walk, a 30-minute walk during lunchtime or even getting out of the office or the house and sitting outside in the light, even when it is gloomy, will make a big difference.”
A more serious version of winter blues is called Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s a type of depression that usually appears as the seasons change to winter.
“The shorter the day is, the more depressed they feel,” explained Stanislaus. “They actually feel very gloomy, lack motivation to do anything. The appetite is changed, craving a lot of sugar, they may gain weight, they sleep a lot, and then they also have this sense of feeling of worthlessness.”
In addition to basking in the sunshine, she said participating in social activities, rather than being cooped up at home, helps brighten those winter blues.
Right around the corner is the annual ‘falling back’ changeup in time. She said that plays a pretty large contributing role.
“People’s bodies really struggle to wake up early,” said Stanislaus. “I mean that really changes as well, when you change a clock back-and-forth, people might have noticed that it takes probably several weeks to get a brained rhythm to wake and to sleep with the change in the clock. That does play a role as well.”
Having said that, this Sunday is when Missourians will “fall back” by changing their clocks one hour back to standard time.
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