GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- These long winter nights we’ve been experiencing are more than just a nuisance, but instead can cause some serious health issues.
It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder, something people in our area usually experience in the winter months.
Medical experts in Green Bay say they’re used to seeing a spike in depression symptoms and Seasonal Affective Disorder this time of year because of the chilly weather and shorter day length.
But experts also say this year’s disappointing Packers season may cause even more symptoms in our area.
“January and February tend to be very difficult months, because there's often very little going on and the weather is traditionally pretty terrible,” says Lisa Schubring, LMFT, Prevea Behavioral Care. “I think that when there's exciting things happening, like the Packers are in the playoffs or going to the Super Bowl, or the Badgers are playing in the Rose Bowl, anything that people can look forward to, that just looks to break up the monotony.”
Experts say Seasonal Affective Disorder is more than just the “winter blues.” That feeling is often just a precursor to something much more serious.
“The depression itself, or that anxiety, they're very real. They're not going to last all year typically, but they're very real symptoms,” says Schubring.
“In the seasonal affect, we look at the onset in early fall when the days seem to get shorter, and the days are colder and there’s less outside activity, less access to the sun,” says Lana Cheslock, Director of Resident Training at Foundations Health & Wholeness.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is really related to sunlight, and how much your body receives. This time of year, we often see less sunlight, because colder weather keeps us cooped up indoors.
Symptoms include a drastic shift in your day-to-day life, including lack of motivation to exercise, unhealthy eating, or change in quality of sleep.
“If you're truly dealing with a Seasonal Affective Disorder, you may not do those things,” Cheslock says. “You would rather hunker down, stay inside, and isolate more. And then that isolation can definitely impact your depressive.”
Experts say Seasonal Affective Disorder usually spikes after the holidays, when there’s less socializing and events. That’s why experts say a Packers season without playoffs could cause some issues in Green Bay.
“Things like playoff games, that kind of stuff, people have parties, people get together so you're socializing so that helps you feel better and more energized, so that definitely is a factor,” Schubring says.
Experts say it’s time to see a professional when Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms become bad enough to disrupt your daily life.
Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder includes prescribed light therapy, individual or group therapy.