Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Winter Blues

The sun came out this weekend and it was warmer. The sun shone and everyone seemed lighter, happier. People smiled as they came out of hibernation and filled the stores. People were walking and running in the park. I felt the sun on my face and saw a hint of the moon in the blue sky and the tracks of a jet trail. I noticed things more. I wasn't just scurrying from place to place with my head down against the wind. Everything changes in Chicago when there is a hint of warmth and sun.

Winter's in Chicago can be gray, hard, long and lonely. We get blue. We look out the window and see one more gray day and want to hibernate. It's harder to get out of bed in the morning when it's pitch black. Many people have a difficult time with the lack of sun in the winter in Chicago. Many experience a mild case of the blues. For some, however, the change of season can be much more serious. Some people become depressed and start to have urges to eat sugar and high carb foods, experience fatigue, have weight gain and have difficulty concentrating. These symptoms may be a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which affects half a million Americans a year-with more women affected then men. Treatment for SAD may include lightbox therapy or if severe, your doctor may determine medication is necessary. Check with your doctor if you think Sad may be impacting your life. But for those whose symptoms are mild, the most effective strategy may be to get outside in the morning rather than hibernating inside. Exposure to the natural light can help restore your body's natural rhythms and also boost your mood and mental functioning. The good news is spring in Chicago is only a month away...

Maureen McNichols Ed.S, LCPC is training at the Awakening Center and loves to visit places to see the sun in the winter! She co-leads the Tuesday night Drop-In Support Group and can be reached at (773)-929-6262 x. 12


  1. Great Blog Maureen! I often feel the weight of winter and this year was the first time I told myself that I needed find joy elsewhere until Spring. Definitely helped me keep my winter blues at bay.

  2. thanks for the reminder that spring is on it's way - winter will not last forever!

  3. I;m glad to know more about SAD. Thx!