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Help is available for winter blues

Though it’s warm outside today, it will soon be cold again. For many, the cold weather simply enhances the feeling of the holiday season. It is particularly fun when the cold weather is associated with clear skies and bright sunshine.

It brings to mind cuddling up with loved ones before a roaring fire, drinking hot chocolate and contentment.

But for others, cold weather and gray skies often conjure up other thoughts, much less happy ones. Many people experience the blues this time of year.

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health says this depression for many is part of seasonal affective disorder. Experts say changing levels of the brain chemicals melatonin and serotonin, which plays a role in our mood and how we sleep, triggers the depression. Seratonin is the body’s feel-good chemical and it’s generated in part by sunlight. When we are exposed to less sunlight, we could experience lower levels of serotonin.

The good news is help is available. If you or a loved one is experiencing sadness, loss of interest in activities you typically enjoy, feelings of hopelessness or a strong depression, please reach out for help.

Experts at the Mississippi Department of Mental Health recommend making extra effort to get as much sunlight as possible. Open window blinds during the day and sit close to the window. Eat lunch outside when the weather allows. You can even benefit from being outdoors when it’s cloudy.

Staying active and continuing to exercise can help fight seasonal depression, as well as stress and anxiety. Spending time with family and friends who make up your support network can help, too.

However, if depression and sadness begin to affect your everyday life, it’s time to ask for help.

The Department of Mental Health operates a toll-free, 24-hour seven-day-a-week help line: 1-877-210-8513. Callers can seek information for themselves or for others.

Anyone who believes they or a loved one is in need of help is encouraged to call.

— The Vicksburg Post