The holidays are over, and I seem to have survived. But I still have a long way to go to get through winter. I head out for work when the sun is coming up and get home well after dark. It surprises me every year, but I should probably expect it at this stage of the game. The biggest impact to me is the large increase in my power bill, but I guess that’s the price of living in central Illinois.
Unfortunately, the decrease in sunlight hours affects some people in a more serious way. They lack energy and lose interest in their work and social activities. They usually feel energetic during the rest of the year, but the winter saps their enthusiasm for everything.
If you feel like this, you might have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). But you can feel better. Dr. John Beck, Health Alliance Vice President and Senior Medical Director, has lots of advice.
“Start with your primary care physician to make sure there aren’t any underlying medical issues,” Beck says. “Your primary care physician can treat you for SAD or refer you to a specialist. It’s important to pay attention to the symptoms and what you are experiencing. Unfortunately, some of our older patients are less likely to complain about feeling depressed, even though there are lots of treatment options available. People who don’t report their symptoms will continue to experience them every year unless they address the root problem.”
People shouldn’t have to feel depressed all winter. If you have SAD, go to your primary care doctor. He or she can point you in the right direction. If you think a loved one has SAD, talk to him or her about getting the care he or she needs.
We can’t make this season any less dark or cold, but we can help you get the support and treatment you need to feel better this winter.
Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.