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January Brings WYO Seasonal Blues Season

January 3, 2011

LARAMIE, Wyo. - The dead of winter in Wyoming inspires some to pack their bags for Arizona or Florida, to escape the short days and cold temperatures. Lack of sunlight during the winter months can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Those living in northern states are most likely to feel its effects.

Clinician Jesse Bell is an expert in identifying and treating SAD. Its symptoms can range from mild to debilitating, he says.

"People lack interest in activities that typically motivate them or cause enjoyment; they lack interest in social activities; and in general, they suffer from a lack of motivation."

Other symptoms to watch for include oversleeping, irritability, weight gain and/or a craving for starchy foods. Bell adds that SAD can go hand-in-hand with other types of depression.

"Someone who may not be depressed at all may experience these depressive symptoms in some form during those winter months."

A general practice physician can help screen for symptoms. Treatments include light therapy, talk and group therapy, and medications.

It's estimated that 10 million Americans experience SAD, Bell says. Three out of four of them are women, according to the National Mental Health Association.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY