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Got the winter blues? Here's what you should do

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Do you get blue this time of year? Perhaps even depressed?

You may be suffering from what is generally called the Winter Blues. It's a blah feeling, that can include sadness and a loss of interest in your usual activities, such as playing sports, spending time with friends and family, and so on.

Severe cases may be diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a clinical condition that may warrant professional health and/or psychiatric help.

The cause is reduced sunlight, both the intensity of the light as well as the shortness of the days, which means more people are affected in the Northern part of the country than are in the Southern parts, which have longer winter days.

The normal treatment is to sit near a full-spectrum light for periods of time. You can buy these lights at hardware stores and some health food stores. It's important to know that not just any light will do. You need to use a bulb(s) that offers the full spectrum of light. Many of those who use these lights report a lifting of their moods.

The National Institutes of Health offer several tips for beating the winter blues. Among them are:

Become involved in fun activities, such as going to a movie, taking a walk or even ice skating.

Get out in the sunlight, especially in the morning.

Spend time with other people, which may keep you from focusing on darker ideas and subject matter.

Eat healthy foods. Eating too much carbs can increase levels of depression.

If you have thoughts of suicide call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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