Ways to combat seasonal depression - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Ways to turn that frown, upside down

DUBUQUE (KWWL) - Polls show the level of happiness in America, dropped with the stock market. Now the flu epidemic is making it hard for many to find joy.

And the weather doesn't help as seasonal depression is just around the corner, but it's been proven; A positive attitude has a direct impact on the economy and your health.

A man in a wheelchair told us today that happiness is what you make of it. The truth is, sometimes it's hard to find happiness when you're on top of the worries and stress of the economy or the fear of getting sick, not to mention cold rainy days. But as it turns out, happiness really is what you make it.

Seasons are changing, and soon the beautiful leaves will fall and will be replaced with bare trees and colder weather.

"A lot of people begin to complain about some sadness and irritability. Those are the main things that kick in," Psychologist Roger Shafer said.

Colder weather can make you feel down, but so can the economy and all the worries that come with it. How will I pay? When will I find a job? Will I get sick this season?

"First of all you're talking about fears and one of the things we have to always do to feel better about ourselves is face our fears, so if you're talking about the economy and the problems. So people have to face that and come up with a plan," Shafer said.

Shafer also says more people are prone to a seasonal effective disorder when the economy is bad.

"This holiday is going to be special for a lot people. They don't have the money they had before they're not able to spend that they were able to celebrate as they have in the fast. So I think we're gonna see a lot of that," Shafer said.

Shafer says there are many ways to combat feeling down; he even brings his dog to work.

Stress management and laughter yoga instructor Patrick Strenchuck says depression is no laughing matter.

"Laughter in general, laughter is so great just on a physiological level. When you laugh the amount of air that you're pushing out of your body and then as you're breathing in the amount of air you're taking in changes," Strenchuck said.

He says laughing for three minutes a day will make anyone feel better.

"We all know how to laugh at the joke that's not really funny. Laughter yoga takes that same sort of ability that we all have. I call it intentional laughter," Strenchuck said.

Dr. Shafer agree, having people around to laugh with makes a big difference along with a sunny day, a little exercise, or a pet.

"Anything that we can do to move our bodies and to lift our spirits is obviously gonna be beneficial for our stress level and the less stress we have the clearer thinking we are," Strenchuck said.

Obviously seasonal depression is no laughing matter, and neither is our economy or health but both Doctor Shafer and Sterenchuck agree the best way to combat depression is to do healthy things that make you feel better and laughing just happens to be one of those things.

Doctors say there is a cure for Seasonal Depression either in the form of light therapy or prescription medication. Experts also say it's normal to not be happy all the time, but when life gets you down, it's important to put it in perspective, and remember what you do have.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

Follow Lauren on Twitter.

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