January is prime-time for seasonal affective disorder - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

January is prime-time for seasonal affective disorder


ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The holidays are over, the days are short and what snow we have is gray.

"I think most Minnesotans at this time at the end of January, February feel kind of cooped up, you kind of feel that cabin fever," said Andrea Thomas, NAMI Outreach Coordinator.

But sometimes cabin fever turns more severe, into a type of depression known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD.

"When it's something you might want to talk to your about is when it's inhibiting you to do things in your life," Thomas said.

Sophie Rollie, the Warmline Coordinator at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suffers from SAD and it's during the dead of winter when she struggles the most.

"I just isolate and I want to be alone. February has always been like for me and I can notice now a trend over my whole life," Rollie said.

Her symptoms eventually drove her to be hospitalized in February of 2006.

"I had just been seeing a therapist for issues like body image and stuff like that, wasn't seeing him regularly, had gone off medications I was prescribed for depression," Rollie said. "I just stopped taking them and I went to see my therapist and I didn't answer the last question on the questionnaire on whether or not you're going to hurt yourself."

While not everyone who suffers from SAD will experience the same symptoms, it's important to pay attention to your body and mind.

"They don't know that they can do something about it. Or that there are treatments like a light box that studies have shown are really effective," Thomas said.

For Sophie finally getting help was a turning point.

"It saved my life. That one step changed everything for me," Rollie said.

Using a combination of treatments prescribed by her doctor she has hope for tomorrow, even if the forecast calls for gray skies and gloom.

For more information on mental illness click here.

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