Danville, VA - For most people, the holiday season is filled with fun and Christmas cheer, but for those with seasonal depression, this time of the year isn't so merry.
Health officials say Seasonal Affective Disorder - known as SAD - affects around 10 million people in the US.
Some call it the "wintertime blues," but health officials say SAD can have a serious effect on a person's mood and ability to complete daily tasks.
If you or someone you know is affected, simple lifestyle changes may make it much easier to cope.
Carol Strange is a psychotherapist that sees patients dealing with all kinds of depression, but her first experience with seasonal affective disorder was her own.
"I grew up in Michigan. It's just gray skies for weeks at a time, " said Strange.
As the weather grows colder and we see less and less sunlight, symptoms of SAD set in.
"Oversleeping or a feeling of hopelessness, not having interest in your normal activities..." said Strange. Experts suggest increasing your physical and social activity during the winter months to combat SAD.
And Danville's Department of Parks and Recreation has the perfect way to get out of the house this holiday season.
They offer group classes - from yoga to weight-lifting - that will put you in motion.
"We have urban line dance class, we have like a zumba fitness class. For our seniors, we have some group activities and group excersises, " said Russell Carter, communications specialist with the Department of Parks and Rec.
If your symptoms become difficult to manage, Strange says you should talk to your doctor about whether additional treatment is right for you.
"It's not just the winter blues. It is a form of depression so you want to be sure that you get help for it because you don't have to suffer, " said Strange.
She says another way to add more sunshine to gloomy days is through light-therapy.
Light boxes and lamps are an easy way to increase your light exposure when you can't get outside.
To lean more about Danville's winter activity offerings, visit www.danville-va.gov.