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UPPER PENINSULA– With snow on the ground, and cloudy to dark skies you might have a case of ‘The Winter Blues,’ otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

Karen Nelson, Therapist, Lower Harbor Associates says, “Feeling down, having less energy, gaining weight.”

Nelson says this is caused by less exposure to natural sunlight during the colder months.

Nelson says, “That can cause deficiencies and reductions in the amount of Vitamin D. Sun exposure and light causes changes in our melatonin and also secondarily there are changes in circadian rhythms which is our internal body clock tells us to be up during the day and going to sleep at night. “

Nelson says that the northern hemisphere, which includes the U.P. has a 10-percent higher rate of people with Seasonal Affective Disorder than the southern hemisphere. So how do people cope with the winter blues?

Nelson says, “Exercise, especially outdoors. Making social plans with friends and family. When you’re inside letting in the light, opening up the curtains the shades wide open.”

Another alternative is light therapy. Over the past several years the NMU library and counseling services has used these lights. 

Leigh Barry, NMU Library says, “The darkest part of the season hits us right around exam time. It’s a particularly stressful time.”

Two lights are located on the third floor of the library and they’re open for anyone use.

Barry says, “We have some students who come in on a regular schedule and are here everyday using these lamps.”

For people just starting to use light therapy it is recommended to start at 15 minute sessions and gradually increase up to 45 minutes. And with just a flick of a switch, they’re very easy to use.