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Mental Health

Go outside to ward off winter blues

Spring may be close, but psychologists say winter’s lack of sunlight, bitter cold and never-ending storms may affect the way you think and act.

Researchers studied the personalities and moods of more than 1,000 adults and found that temperature, sunlight, wind and precipitation have no real impact on a positive mood – but they do intensify a negative one.

“We know that the weather can play a role in people's mood,” Dr. Simon Rego, a psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, told FoxNews.com. “The question is how that weather or the consequences of weather interacts with things like the environment we're in and our own personality makeup that can really make the difference between someone going a little bit nuts and someone managing it very well."

Psychologists say it’s not unusual to feel a little down during the colder, darker months. But if you notice those feelings taking over your life, it’s important to see a doctor, because it could be a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

“We want to distinguish between SAD, which is a diagnosable psychiatric condition, versus the winter blues which is kind of lower grade— feeling frustrated with winter, feeling a little bit down and cooped up and just stressed with the weather,” Dr. Robin Kerner, of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, told FoxNews.com.

If it’s just the “winter blues,” psychologists say the best medicine is to go outside and get more sunlight. If it’s a cloudy day, try to go outside to get some exercise, Kerner said.

While stress can trigger feelings of helplessness during the winter, making a plan to avoid known stressors can also help you battle the blues.