Seasonal depression makes winter more difficult in New England

PROSPECT & FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — For most, Christmas is a joyous time.

However, it isn’t always so happy for other people.

“Christmas is either great or not,” explained Kelly Cronin, who provides comfort animals.

Cronin knows the downside of Christmas all too well. She lost her job and learned her mom had terminal cancer on the same day.

Now, she runs a small farm in Prospect where she provides comfort animals to foster children and to adults battling depression.

“You anticipate that you’re going to get what you want, or that your family going to all sit around the dining room table and everybody is going to exchange gifts and love each other, and a lot of times that doesn’t happen,” she said.

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There’s science to back up why Cronin is in high demand at the holiday. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder.

“It’s a type of major depression,” stated Dr. David Hollingsworth with Fairfield University.

It’s more common during winter, especially for those of us who live in the northeast since we’re further from the equator than others, according to Dr. Hollingsworth.

That means folks in New England have less sunlight in the winter, leading to more of the hormone, melatonin.

Dr. Hollingsworth says melatonin “…produces more sleepiness and being lethargic or being tired most of the time.”

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He also said that one sure way to fight seasonal depression, besides comfort animals, is to get up and keep doing what makes you happy.

“When you’re doing those things that you enjoy doing, typically, you’re in a happier mood,” Dr. Hollingsworth explained.

Of course, increased sleep is a symptom of depression.

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