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Winter Weather Blues

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TROY (WWJ) – Winter weather got you down? You’re not alone. Beaumont psychiatrist Dr. Howard Belkin says this is a busy time of year for him, with patients reporting sadness and a lot of irritability.

“People will come into the office and they’ll tell how things have been going badly for them, they’re angry, they’re yelling at their spouse, at their kids, they’re having problems at work,” says Belkin.

The doctor says most people in this area get the Winter Blues and it can often come out as anger.

“It’s really depressing sitting in the house not being able to do what you want to do. You add that to the fact that it’s gray here 80 or 90 percent of the time, there’s going to be a lot of sadness, a lot of irritability,” he says.

Belkin says there are a lot of studies indicating the lack of light in Michigan this time of year has a direct, detrimental affect on mood. But there are things you can do to help.

“I think the basic things such as exercise, doing well, socializing, eating well, visiting with friends, spending time with family and sitting back and really appreciating the good things that you have, can be a real definite advantage if you’re suffering from Winter Blues,” says Belkin.

Belkin says the problem isn’t just being trapped inside by the weather, it’s also the lack of light.

“Most people who live in northern, gray climates are going to suffer from that — ‘I just don’t feel great, I’m a little bit down, I wish it was summer’ — those kind of symptoms. But there is a certain percentage of the people, and it may be as high as 20, 25 or 30 percent, who do suffer from an actual seasonal affective disorder,” says Belkin.

For those people, problems with sleep, appetite or suicidal thoughts may require treatment. For others, will one of those “happy lights” help?

“Some of the studies really do seem to show that they do help. I don’t think that there is much of a downside to using the light,” says Belkin.

It’s best to check with your doctor.

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