Senior centers working to beat seasonal depression

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MARION COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Oversleeping, weight gain and low energy are just some of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, or seasonal depression. This mood change commonly happens during the winter months, and shouldn't be written off.

The depression comes from the bleak weather, or in the case of many senior citizens, being alone. Most senior citizens have experienced loss, and are forced to spend the holidays alone.

That's why Debbie Harvey with the Marion County Senior Center offers seniors a way to socialize and beat their blues.

"When you come to a senior center to socialize, or anywhere, your friends know when you're having a really rough time, and they'll be there for you," said Executive Director Harvey.

Helping someone in need is another way to make a difference. Senior centers are always in need of volunteers so stopping to help serve a meal, or just to simply say hi, can brighten someone's day more than most realize.

"If you live in a neighborhood or you know someone that is alone; stop by and say hi. Make sure they are okay because they really are lonely. And getting to talk to people, they don't get as depressed."

Harvey says local schools will come by the center to sing with seniors and interact with them for the day, which is one of the center's favorite ways to cheer up anyone who was feeling down.

"That's another great interaction opportunity is if you can get the younger generation and older doing stuff together. Maybe seniors volunteering would be a good way to keep them from being depressed."

The Mayo Clinic reports regular exercise, daily sun exposure, and possible light therapy as other ways to fight off seasonal depression.