As the nation progresses further into the heart of winter with continuously cold and dark days, the season's lack of light can induce changes in your mental stability.
While occasional waves of sadness, or "winter blues," are not necessarily uncommon during the winter months, these instances can snowball into a more serious and severe type of depression known as seasonal affective disorder.
A relatively new disease, seasonal affective disorder, more commonly known as SAD, is classified by full-blown major depressive episodes that take form most often around the transition between seasons.
"It usually depends on the latitude but the farther north you go, the earlier it is going to set in," Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University's School of Medicine Dr. Norman Rosenthal, M.D., said. "For most people in the mid-Atlantic region, SAD sets in usually around October."
For those living in New England, that onset typically happens in September, one month earlier than those in the mid-Atlantic.
Unlike many other psychological disorders, SAD is unique due to the geographic patterns in which the most occurrences happen.
As the onset of SAD gets earlier moving north, the number of incidents do too, according to the results of a study conducted by Rosenthal and his colleagues.
"By the time we got up to the Canadian border we found about a 9 percent prevalence of SAD, whereas when you got all the way down to Florida there was only 1.5 percent," Rosenthal said.
Even though a person's residential location can influence their predisposition to the illness, many other factors come into play as well, including, gender, genetics and stress levels.
Women in their 30s and 40s are most prone to developing the disorder, although men can still suffer from it.
"It's maybe three to four women to one man," Rosenthal, author of "Winter Blues" and "The Winter Blues Survival Menu," said. "We think it is the female sex hormone that makes the brain more susceptible to the changes in light."
Genetics may also play a role, as some cases have found a relation between various gene variations and seasonal affective disorder, according to Rosenthal.
Lightbar patrons sit in a green glow from special lights in Portland, Ore., Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. Designed to mimic sunlight, light boxes are now being featured to help those with seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, an energy-sapping depression that occurs at the same time each year and affects an estimated 3 percent to 5 percent of Americans. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
However, one of the largest determining factors is stress, which can trigger SAD symptoms, cause them to manifest and result in the full-scale disorder.
Due to the fact that the initial behavior changes prior to the fully developed disorder may be subtle and unnoticeable, diagnosing SAD can prove to be difficult.
The most common symptoms of the disorder include significant and impairing fatigue, sleeping more hours per day than usual, a weight gain of at least 5 percent, a pervasively sad mood, loss of interest in activities, difficulty concentrating, guilt that affects self-esteem and additional symptoms also associated with depression.
Unlike many other psychological disorders, SAD can be cured without a visit to the doctor.
"Reduce stress wherever you can and get more light," Rosenthal said. "Get outdoors more or get in the snow on a sunny, winter day."
Bringing more light into the home can also help, as a lighter color of paint can aid in reflecting the light, according to Rosenthal.
If these techniques do not work, light therapy is another treatment option. Patients can sit in front of a specially made full-spectrum lightbulb or sunlamp once a day, until the winter months have passed. Other treatments for the disorder include cognitive behavioral therapy to attempt to reduce behavioral withdraw and negative thoughts, as well as the use of antidepressants.
Hurricane Matthew will take a northward turn this weekend, which will bring the storm along the Atlantic coast of the United States next week.
Hurricane Matthew will threaten the central and northern Caribbean with flooding rain, damaging winds and an inundating storm surge early next week.
It will feel like an extended winter for those living from the northern Plains to the eastern U.S., as cold and snowy conditions last longer than normal.
Persistent downpours will raise the flood risk in part of the mid-Atlantic into Friday night, while rain will spread over the balance of the northeastern United States into the weekend.
Chaba remains on track to become a powerful typhoon and could threaten lives and property across the Ryukyu Islands and mainland Japan next week.
A large chunk of the United Kingdom will catch a break from the recent unsettled weather during the first week of October.
Lander, NY (1982)
15.4 inches of of snow (29th-30th). Total of 32.9 inches for month (Sept. record).
Record dry September: Pittsburgh, PA - Only 0.28" this month; driest September on record (old record 0.57 inches in 1893) Greensboro, NC - Driest month ever (only a trace of rain) Columbia, SC - Only 0.07" of rain.
Central and Western NY (1991)
Record cold morning; Buffalo, had 32 degrees, tying the all-time September low. Syracuse dropped to 28 degrees, breaking the old record of 32 set in 1942. Albany hit 28, erasing the 29-degree mark of 1951. Other lows (not official records) included: 21 degrees at Angelica, 22 at Watertown, 24 at Ithaca and 25 at Elmira.