Health Plus-Seasonal Affective Disorder - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus-Seasonal Affective Disorder

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Kathleen Riniker struggles with her emotions during short, dreary winter weather days. Kathleen Riniker struggles with her emotions during short, dreary winter weather days.

Cedar Falls (KWWL)-A lot of us complain about the ups and downs of winter weather, but for some eastern Iowans seasonal changes can be devastating.  In Health Plus, how one woman is coping with the mood disorder called S.A.D.

A little sunlight makes a big difference in Kathleen Riniker's life.  It can determine whether she gets out of bed.

"Fall to winter, different times of the year. I would just. It's horrible," she says. 

Since she was in her 20's, the Parkersburg woman remembers feeling the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D.

But only in the past decade has she hooked up with a counselor to specifically treat the mood disorder.

 "If you have more days than not where you feel sort of down and gloomy in addition to the other symptoms. The, you know, low motivation, disinterest in activities that you once found pleasurable, increased sleep, appetite, weight changes, social withdrawal," says Traci Ludwig with Covenant Clinic Psychiatry.

Ludwig says seasonal mood changes are normal but when they persist or are more intense, S.A.D. could be the issue.

Patients like Kathleen benefit from literally letting some light in.

"Opening your shades, letting the sunlight in, simple things such as trimming back your trees to let the natural light into your home, sitting by a window where there's a lot of light coming in, skylights are great. These are natural things you can do in addition to the big thing of just getting out," she adds.

Ludwig says more serious cases of sad can be treated with anti-depressants and counseling.

Kathleen even uses a special light indoors.  And she, of all people, looks forward to spring.

"I'm looking forward now to the nice, warmer weather to get out 'cause that really does a lot for your self-esteem and makes me feel like, 'gee whiz, I did something today,'" says Kathleen.

By the way, Ludwig says in addition to chemical changes from less light genetics could play a role in who gets S.A.D.

Tara Thomas

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