If your mood takes a hit during the wintery months, you may be among the 5 to 10 percent of adults across the U.S. who suffer from a winter depression, says Kenneth Oclatis, Ph.D., Director of Outpatient Mental Health Services and Special Programs at MidHudson Regional Hospital.
“Patients experiencing a low mood, and who may also be sleeping or eating more to comfort themselves, can head off depression by using behavioral activation. This simply means getting out of the house, going for a walk and trying to interact with people more frequently,” Oclatis says.
But for the acute cases of winter depression, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Dr. Oclatis says it’s important to seek treatment. “For patients who can’t just bootstrap themselves out of it, it’s time to see a mental health professional.” According to Dr. Oclatis, treatment may include psychotherapy, light therapy, or referral for medication, all of which can be very successful in treating SAD individually or in combination. “For those patients choosing to use medication, psychiatrists and primary care physicians most often prescribe antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft or Lexapro.”
Dr. Oclatis urges anyone dealing with winter depression to “become more actively involved with other people, engage in more physical activity, and find things that bring more fulfillment and enjoyment into your life.”
To learn more about behavioral health services offered at WMCHealth, visit www.westchestermedicalcenter.com/bhc