'I'm sick of this': Cold, cloudy weather can lead to seasonal affective disorder

’I’m sick of this’: Cold, cloudy weather can lead to seasonal affective disorder

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- While the calendar may indicate that spring has started, Mother Nature seems to have lost track of time.

Last weekend's sunshine and warm temperatures have been replaced by cold, windy days that many Wisconsinites are tired of.

"It's usually like 60 degrees by this point," said Scott Vachavake. "I'm sick of this."

According to Doctor Shilagh Mirgain, a psychologist at UW Health, 3-5% of people are impacted by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) nationwide. Those numbers are higher in northern climates.

"Our mood is very much impacted by weather," Dr. Mirgain explained. "This year, in particular, it feels like winter is keeping us in its grasp."

Dr. Mirgain says it's important to stay active, both physically and mentally, to help combat SAD, a form of clinical depression.

"There are four primary things you can do to boost your mood and kind of safeguard your mental health," Dr. Mirgain said. "Number one, exercise. Get out and move. Number two, supplement with Vitamin D3. Talk to your physician, figuring out what dosage is right for you. During these colder, grayer winter months, the sun's rays are not strong enough to have our body produce Vitamin D3 naturally so think about adding a supplement."

The next two steps include engaging with family and friends.

"Number three, do something fun," Dr. Mirgain recommended. "Plan a little day trip. Spend time with loved ones. Do a hobby or a craft. Doing those kinds of things can give us something to enjoy and look forward to. Fourth, social connection is really important. Don't isolate. Reach out to people. Schedule something you can do with them. Plan something fun with your social community."

That something fun can be indoors or outdoors.

For Amy Wright, who is visiting Milwaukee from Oklahoma for a work conference, that fun meant beating the cold by attending the Milwaukee Art Museum's Free Admission Day, the only one on the calendar so far for 2022.

"Before we head out I wanted to get in a little bit more Milwaukee culture," Wright said. "Super excited when we walked in, it was a free day. You guys need to turn up the heat a little bit because I came from 70-degree weather."

Vachavake and his friend, Mike Listau, decided to brave the cold temperatures and go for a bike ride along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

"It's a little windy, but as long as you got it on your back it's alright," Listau said. "You can call this spring in Wisconsin I think."

Listau, a Milwaukee native, has lived in Florida for over a decade. He'll head back to the Sunshine State and warm temperatures on Sunday, leaving his friend, Vachavake, to deal with the whirlwind Wisconsin weather. He's hopeful Mother Nature will start to cooperate soon.

"Being in Wisconsin, where we only get four months of decent weather, I was hoping this would be one of those months," Vachavake said, describing April. "It's definitely not."

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