Spring Could Lift Winter Blues

Here's another reason to look forward to spring - it could boost your mood!

Dr. Taylor Porter, medical director at Topeka's Stormont-Vail West, says there is plenty of data that people will have worsening of mood in the winter. He says it's thought to be linked to the length of the day, rather than the clouds or temperatures. He says the part of the brain that sets the body's daily rhythm, in some people, is more sensitive to how much light it gets.

For about a half million Americans, it triggers a serious condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder. Porter says SAD is a depression, with symptoms such as mood and appetite changes and loss of interest in activites. He says if those symptoms have their onset predictably in the winter only and lift when the days get longer, it is likely SAD.

Porter says SAD can be treated with medication, like other depression, and also with light therapy. He says maximizing light exposure is an approach anyone can take less formally, simply by sitting next to a window or getting outdoors for a walk during the daylight hours.

For everyone, beating the blues starts with focusing on the positive. Porter says people should take time to do things they enjoy, like spending time with family and friends or planning a vacation getaway for the winter months. He says exercise is also a great tool for warding off depression.

Of course, Mother Nature has the best prescription - with the days getting longer, those seasonal symptoms should start to lighten up.