Coping With the Winter Blues

Snow on branches in Grant Park, ChicagoPsychologist Janine Gauthier took part in our recent Q&A about holiday health on the Rush page on Facebook. Here’s what she had to say about about enduring winter.

All of this cold weather is getting me down. How do I know if this is normal, or is there something more serious I should be worried about? What are some signs or symptoms I should be looking for to know that I should talk to my doc?

This is a very common experience and many people feel SAD at this time of the year due to the increased darkness and cold. SAD is also known as seasonal affective disorder.

If you find you are feeling as though you can’t shake the feelings and are losing interest in normal activities, isolating yourself, and feeling hopeless, then it is time to talk to a specialist.

Also, one strategy for coping with seasonal affective disorder is to use phototherapy or light therapy. You can purchase light boxes, and it’s recommended that individuals sit in front of these light boxes in the morning, and it can help the brain chemicals that help to decrease the effects of SAD.

Gauthier is the director of psychosocial oncology and director of clinical services for the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program at Rush. She’s also an assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Rush University.

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