Feeling dark and gloomy? It may be seasonal affective disorder

Does the weather have you feeling down in the dumps? There might be more to it that you realize. For about 5 percent of the population, dark cloudy skies and few daylight hours can lead to an issue known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

“There are some factors that contribute to that, and usually it’s just an imbalance of serotonin or melatonin that effect mood or sleep,” said Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner Allegra Guzman-Weaver. “There’s also some talk about how when it gets darker, things kind of change, and that kind of effects just our moods.”

To help us make it through this winter, many experts recommend six natural remedies to help get you out of your funk.

1. Light therapy mimics natural outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood. You sit a few feet away from a special light therapy box.

2. Make your environment sunnier and brighter. Open blinds and trim tree branches to let more light into your home.

3. In your house, paint your walls a light color, and use light colored fabric and rugs as well. But, wear warm colors. Wearing yellow, orange and red can stimulate your mood.

4. Get outside. Outdoor light can help, especially if you get out in the morning. Also consider taking a walk during lunch.

5. Break away from stimulants. When the weather turns cold, we might turn to coffee to wake us up, sugar to keep us happy, or wine to relax, but these become coping mechanisms that force our bodies into unnatural states of highs and lows.

6. And regular exercise. This will help relieve stress and anxiety, which can both increase SAD symptoms.

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