If these cold arctic temps are making you feel down, if the cloudy skies and rare sunny days have you feeling low, it's possible you may be depressed.
And believe it or not, there's actually a condition for it.
In slang terms it's referred to as the winter blues or seasonal depression, but the full medical term is Seasonal Affected Disorder, and all comedy aside it's often referred to as SAD.
Chuck Johnson, psychiatric services coordinator with Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Ill., explains its a clinical diagnosis.
"It occurs more often in the northern areas of the United States and is directly effected by the amount of sunlight people get in the winter months. Seattle, people in Canada, people in the northern states — the farther north you get, the more hours of darkness you get during the day time," Johnson said. "People in this area, it's very common; people have more depression during the winter months than they do during the summer months. One of the things that affects it too is during the winter months, people who are used to getting out, working in the garden, and doing their yard, and doing basketball, and doing outside activities are all at once stuck in the house. People get this kind of feeling of being closed in with the kids, and the spouse, and you got all these people in a restricted area."
He adds that SAD affects every six out of 100 people in the U.S., and it's mostly women between the ages of 18 and 30. The disorder can play with the pineal gland in the brain which can in turn cause sleeping problems.
"One of the things you have to realize is that this is a difficult time of the year to begin with, we're just coming off the holidays. Many people are having these seasonal blues and they're having them because they've maybe over extended themselves during the holidays both physically and emotionally, they've also overextended their credit cards and the bills are coming due, they've dealt with all these things with families," Johnson said. "And for many of us, we don't take good care of ourselves during the holidays. We eat bad foods, we don't exercise, we isolate in the house. We do all the things we shouldn't do."
March should be the time period when SAD shouldn't be an issue any more, Johnson indicated. The weather is nicer, it's the verge of spring. But if the depression continues, he said you might want to consult medical advice. In the meantime, Johnson says don't over do things like goals and find time for yourself.
"Be reasonable with your expectations and goals during the holidays. A lot of us have these unrealistic goals of all the things that we're going to do. We have made these New Year's resolutions about losing 50 pounds — so be realistic. It's much better to start with short-term goals that you can accomplish and then add to those goals," Johnson said. "We all have to have some special, quiet times for ourselves. You need to have what I call hermit time. Time where it's just for you where everybody leaves you alone. Everybody needs some quiet time away from all the stimulation just to kind of gather themselves. For some people that might be listening to quiet music, or it might be reading, or it might be meditation or relaxation exercises, but people need to do something to kind of unwind, to kind of bring their stress level down."