Did the time change change your mood?

A psychologist offers tips to ease Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or the "winter blues"
Published: Nov. 13, 2023 at 6:24 AM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - If you felt a change in your mood after setting your clocks back, you aren’t alone.

A distinguished psychologist with U.W. Health tells Action 2 News she’s seeing more patients coming in during the past week feeling down, sluggish, or having difficulty concentrating. These are all symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

The American Psychiatric Association says about 5% of adults experience SAD but a lot more could have a mild case of “winter blues” as colder, grayer days become the norm.

Dr. Shilagh Mirgain says seasonal affective disorder is most common in women and young people between 18 and 30 years old.

“Whether it’s trying to find a job, or facing student loans from school, just figuring who you are, that can lead somebody to be vulnerable to lower mood during winter months,” Dr. Mirgain said.

Dr. Mirgain says it can help to have a “winter survival toolkit.” Some examples of tools to keep in mind:

  • Staying connected with friends and family
  • Light therapy to help replace the lost daylight
  • Making sure you get enough vitamin D
  • Exercise
  • Self-care, like having something to look forward to each day

Dr. Mirgain says noticing signs of seasonal affective disorder early can save lives.

“If you find that you’re starting to feel down or maybe you’re having some impairments in your work life or your relationships or you just don’t feel like yourself, reach out early,” she recommended.

If you are struggling, or know someone who is, 988 is a free lifeline you can call anytime to speak to a trained counselor.

You can also reach out to your primary care physician or a behavioral health specialist.

A distinguished UW Health psychologist is seeing more people with symptoms of S.A.D. or "winter blues"