CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Does this cold, gloomy weather get you down? If so, you’re not alone.
After the holidays, many people start to feel the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) kicking in. It’s a type of depression that is usually connected to lack of sunlight throughout the winter months.
“For the most part, they attribute it to shorter days, less sunlight and the farther that you live from the equator,” said Dr. Rita Gray, a licensed psychologist for the Will County Health Department.
Dr. Gray says it has everything to do with a lack of Vitamin D, which can cause depression.
“Vitamin D is the ‘sun vitamin.’ Some people think Vitamin C is because they envision oranges growing in the sun, but Vitamin D is the key.”
SAD can affect anyone. However, according to Barry Kolanowski, executive director of the Will County Senior Services Center, seniors often experience it shortly after the holidays when they find themselves reflecting on visits that may have seemed unfulfilling.
“Perhaps they were part of a large family gathering but felt a little out of place or felt guilty about needing transportation,” Kolanowski explained. “Now they’re alone again, and perhaps going through that first holiday season without their spouse.”
Dr. Gray agreed. “Seniors are definitely vulnerable to SAD due to issues like declining health, or maybe what they feel is a decreasing role in life.”
It is recommended that even when the sun is not out, anyone fighting SAD should spend 20 minutes a day outdoors.