Cold weather adds to depression risk for patients

01/07/2014 7:19 AM

01/07/2014 7:20 AM

An Illinois psychiatrist says the health risks associated with the frigid weather include depression for people already susceptible to it.

Loyola University Medical Center psychiatrist Dr. Angelos Halaris says the letdown after the holidays and winter’s shorter daylight hours leave some people mentally and physically exhausted. Pile on subzero temperatures and they may find their feelings of hopelessness increasing.

Halaris says bright light can have a helpful effect on brain chemistry, acting as a natural antidepressant. The cold may be keeping people indoors and out of the sunlight. He reminds patients to open the drapes and blinds to let in natural light.

Halaris adds that seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that can be treated with light therapy, antidepressant medication and/or psychotherapy.

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