Rainy days, depression linked

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The misty, cold scene outside is not what South Louisiana is accustomed to.  Instead of sunshine and mild winters, folks are bundled up and huddling under umbrellas.

Not surprisingly, as the temperature drops and the rain falls, people's moods head south as well.

"Here, it's rainy and it's dreary weather so it's really difficult for people to get out and do what they're use to doing so they feel restricted," said the clinical manager for Family Services of Greater Baton Rouge Jyoti Shah.

"They get irritable, lethargic, they can't concentrate. They like to stay in bed," said the Baton Rouge Mental Health Center facility manager Debbie Duckworth.

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD as it's known, is fairly common and linked to a lack of sunshine. Add to that the holidays ending, and those December bills coming in, and the dark days only get darker.

"It's not just being in lousy mood because it's raining and nasty out. When it's dark, our melatonin levels increase so we want to hibernate," said Duckworth.

Despite the urge to stay inside when the weather's bad, counselors say one of the best ways to combat SAD. is to get out and about. Another way is to wear bright colors, and socialize.  Even listening to peppy music can brighten your mood when the sky is still gray.

"It does take some effort to counteract it," said Duckworth.

"They really need to start talking," suggested Shah.  "They can talk to friends or maybe they can go to church and talk with their pastor, or they can come here and we are always here."

Other ways of coping with SAD include eating foods rich in vitamins C or D, which you would normally absorb from sunshine.

There are also light boxes and full spectrum light bulbs available at most stores which can help give your body a boost while in doors.

However, Duckworth warns that if the depression does not change or get better as the seasons change, it may be time to talk to a doctor about other forms of depression.

Resources out there for anyone wanting help with any form of depression, include the Family Services of Greater Baton Rouge, the Capital Area Human Services and the Baton Rouge Crisis Center.

Family Services of Greater Baton Rouge: (225) 924-0123

Capital Area Human Services: (225) 925-1906

Baton Rouge Crisis Center: (225) 924-3900

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