Even though we expect more than our fair share of cloudy days here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, the amount of clouds — and rain — we’ve seen this spring and summer is getting to be a bit ridiculous. The National Weather Service announced that last month was the eighth rainiest month on record in the Pittsburgh area. If the grey and rain is getting you down, Daniel Solomon says you are not alone:
Alicia Kaplan, a psychiatrist with the Allegheny Health Network, said some of her patients already have been negatively affected.
“Some people’s moods have really changed with the constant rain,” she said. “A lot of it is because they’re not able to get out and do what they want to in the summer months.”
According to Dr. Kaplan, this feeling runs even stronger among her patients with seasonal affective disorder, a condition that leads sufferers into depressive episodes usually brought on by winter’s short days and low temperatures.
Still, she pointed out, the run of rainy days has not been anywhere near as harmful to these patients as Pittsburgh’s long cold seasons.
Dr. Kaplan had a word of advice for anyone feeling down because of the weather: “Stay active — maybe see a movie, hit the gym… You’ve got to keep up those coping skills.”
And take your vitamin D!:
Lisa Bodnar, an epidemiologist at the University of Pittsburgh, said June’s rains might have resulted in a Vitamin D deficiency for some people. The summer months are a critical time for individuals to replenish their stores of the vitamin, which the human body synthesizes upon exposure to sunlight and uses to keep bones strong and help ward off a range of ailments — diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune disorders.
Vitamin D levels hit their low in the winter months, and that’s when deficiencies become most apparent, with symptoms including bone pain, muscle weakness and fatigue.
Dr. Bodnar expressed particular concern for dark-skinned people, who need more exposure to sunlight to synthesize the same amount of Vitamin D as those with lighter skin. She recommended that individuals worried about a deficiency of the substance take an over-the-counter supplement or consult their health-care provider.
(Back Pat: Adam Ketyer)