Beating the Winter Blues: A FOX28 Special Report - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Beating the Winter Blues: A FOX28 Special Report

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Dr. Ahmed Elmaadawi, a psychiatrist at Memorial Hospital Dr. Ahmed Elmaadawi, a psychiatrist at Memorial Hospital
A woman is seen using a light box at Memorial Hospital A woman is seen using a light box at Memorial Hospital
Some people are trying tanning beds to beat the blues Some people are trying tanning beds to beat the blues
Deb Mangus, a travel agent at Menno Travel in Goshen, says people tell her they want to go to places like South America and Tahiti Deb Mangus, a travel agent at Menno Travel in Goshen, says people tell her they want to go to places like South America and Tahiti

It's no secret that this has been a tough winter. The never-ending snow combined with freezing temperatures has taken it's toll on cities, roads and all of us who have been stuck in it. And if you find it affecting your mood, you're not alone.

"Being out in the cold, not even wanting to get out of your bed every morning, it is just ridiculous, because it's beyond cold," says Aaron Reynolds of South Bend. "You can't even move, it almost paralyzes you to the point that if you fall in the snow you may not get up, its pretty bad," says Reynolds.

Doctors know all about the winter blues, they say it can lead to seasonal affective disorder - better known as SAD. Dr. Ahmed Elmaadawi is a psychiatrist at Memorial Hospital in South Bend. He says that SAD is a clinical depression.

"People who experience seasonal depression, they may feel sad and not enjoy much, lack of pleasure, lack of energy throughout the day," says Dr. Elmaadawi. He goes on to say that there are various ways you can treat it, one of the ways is a technique called light therapy.

"For light therapy we recommend up to 10,000 lumens of energy for 10 to 15 minutes to start and then going up to a half hour," says Elmaadawi.

The Mayo Clinic has a few things you should keep in mind if you are going to try light therapy:

  • you can buy a light box over the counter or online
  • make sure you consult a doctor before you buy
  • most health insurance plans do not cover the cost of the light box

Dr. Elmaadawi says the website for the National Institute of Mental Health is also a good resource for information on SAD.

Let's be honest, not many of us are going to go to the doctor for the winter blues. Many people we spoke to said they are doing simple things like going to the tanning salon to help them get through the winter.

Judy Engal visits a tanning salon 2 to 3 times per week. "It makes me feel like I'm in the Bahamas when I'm here in the winter," says Engal. She says the combination of the warmth and the light from the tanning bed keeps her in a good mood.

Employees at local tanning salons tell us they've noticed a lot of new customers this winter. "They get extremely warm, I mean it warms you to your core, it's not just a second, it basically warms you for the rest of the day," says Aubrey Lint who works at Fun Tan in Mishawaka.

Tanning beds can also be a good source for Vitamin D, here are a couple things to keep in mind when choosing a bed.  Your bed should:

  • have low pressure
  • deliver more UVB light
  • have electronic ballasts and not magnetic ones

Others say the best way to deal with winter is to leave Michiana and visit somewhere warm. Travel agents say they've been hearing it from their customers. "It's too cold, its too long, there's too much snow, I can't even see to get out of my driveway so get me out of here," says Deb Mangus of Menno Travel in Goshen. "People want to go to Tahiti, they want to go to South America," says Mangus. She also has noticed a sense of urgency, "they really want to go in 2 weeks, they've decided and just get me out of here."

But for those of us who can't just hop on a plane to paradise there are some simple things you can do. Dr. Elmaadawi recommends eating healthy and limiting the carbohydrates. He also says it's important to stay active. "I tell my patients to walk 10 minutes with a smile on your face and that could make a difference," says Elmaadawi.

Smile Michiana, maybe it'll all be over soon.

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