Don’t let the winter blues get you down this holiday season

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SALT LAKE CITY – We’ve had an unseasonably warm weather, but with winter weather coming, some people can experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

As the days get shorter and colder, the winter blues can set in.

“It does really exist,” said Jenn Oxborrow, a therapist at The Lotus Center. She helps people suffering from SAD. It’s a form of depression that hits during the fall and winter months. The exact cause of the condition is not known. Doctors say it could be triggered because of less sunlight, and lower Serotonin levels.

“It's something that is hard for people to talk about sometimes where they just attribute it to holiday stress,” said Oxborrow.

While holiday cheer is all around, people can fall into a slump. They lack energy, and find it harder to get out of bed. They’re moody, don’t get along with others. They also crave carbs and gain weight.

“The holidays can be a time where we have additional financial stressors or expectations. We have a lot of deadlines. It might be a time where we’re reminded of missing someone who is no longer in our life,” said Oxborrow.

If the symptoms are ignored, Oxborrow says they can escalate into a serious problem. People could withdraw from friends and family, abuse drugs and alcohol and may have suicidal thoughts.

“It’s important to take this seriously because Utah has an escalating and very high suicide rate – especially with our young people,” Oxborrow said.

There are ways to kick the winter blues. Get moving, exercise outdoors, get a good night’s sleep and try not to isolate yourself. Hang out with friends, learn a new skill or volunteer.

“It’s really easy to work with if we recognize it up front. We can do a lot to help people,” said Oxborrow.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, help is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK.

Here are some other resources:

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