SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – As the days get colder, shorter, and darker, the change could affect your mood negatively. A physician with LSU Health Shreveport has tips to help you avoid the winter blues.

Many people experience what is known as seasonal depression during the fall/winter months, and it’s important to know how to cope with those feelings.

“This time of year, we have shorter days. We just came out of daylight savings time; I think the sun is setting at 5:19 today. So, a lot of people, that get off work around that time so if they work in an office, they go all day long without seeing sunlight,” says Dr. McNeil with LSU Health Shreveport.

The lack of exposure to Vitamin D can drop the activity of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is highly correlated with mood and anxiety.

Dr. McNeil says health experts see an uptick in depressive symptoms among people who are having decreased serotonin activity.

According to Dr. McNeil trying to restructure your day to allow at least a few minutes of exposure to sunlight could help your mood. And if you aren’t able to get outside, there are other options.

“You can order a light box from an online retailer or some stores locally sell one. You don’t need a doctor’s prescription for that,” explains Dr. McNeil

So how do you know if you are experiencing seasonal depression? The symptoms include decreased interest, feelings of guilt, decreased sleep, changes in appetite, or a shift in energy level.

If you are feeling more severe symptoms, it may be time to talk with a mental health professional.

Remember, seasonal mood shifts are common and there are people who can help.

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