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Gray skies give you the blues —Pure sunshine? We only get 59 days a year in the Burgh


By Tara Yilmaz

→ Did you know Pittsburgh only gets 59 days of pure sunshine a year? Compared to other cities in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh is last on the list for sunny days. Allentown receives 94, Erie 63, Scranton 70 and Philadelphia 93. What do sunny days mean? For a city like Pittsburgh, sunny days mean the total days in a year when the sky is mostly clear. That estimation includes the days when clouds cover up to 30% of the sky during daylight hours.

Partly sunny days are the forecast Pittsburgh is known for. “Partly cloudy with a chance of rain,” would be the name of the city’s mix tape, if Pittsburgh was a Billboard Top 100 artist. Noted on partly sunny days have a cloud covering from 40 to 70% of the sky during the daytime.

According to, total days with the sun is “the sum of the sunny plus partly sunny days. The rest of the days are mainly overcast, with at least 80% cloud cover. All the numbers are annual averages, made from the years of weather watching.”

→ Did you know there is a disorder related to the changes in the season? It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). states that SAD begins and ends at about the same time every year. Symptoms start in the Fall and continue throughout the winter months. Signs and symptoms such as losing interest in activities, feeling sad, trouble sleeping, feelings of hopelessness, overeating and weight gain all will drain a person's energy and contribute to moodiness. The Mayo Clinic also states these symptoms tend to dissipate during the spring and summer months.

Treatment for the “winter blues” ranges from light therapy (phototherapy) that includes light boxes that are designed to mimic natural light that produces doses of therapeutic light to treat SAD. Light therapy causes changes in brain chemicals that are linked to mood. Psychotherapy mixed with medications is also an effective way to treat SAD.

→ Did you know the term winter blues refers to feeling sad and down in the dumps? The National Institute of Health (NIH) states that winter blues isn’t something that is medically diagnosed, but more of an understood feeling we can sometimes have during the winter months that is temporary.

→ Did you know the winter blues are the precursor to SAD? Feeling sad is different from depression and common. But when sadness interferes with a person’s ability to function in daily life, it’s a sign of something more serious.

→ Did you know there are ways to treat the winter blues? A quick boost to your mood will help anyone stage off a winter blues attack. Changing one’s eating habits to incorporate more protein and Vitamin D. Changing sleep habits to prevent disruption to our circadian rhythm. Becoming more physically active during the winter months is beneficial to reducing depression and stress. Easier said than done, especially when an individual goes to work in the dark and comes home in the dark. It’s difficult to find spare time in the day to steal moments of sunlight when working or going to school. If a person can move a chair or desk in front of a window or take brief walks during daylight hours this is an alternative way to get relief. Living in Pittsburgh with an average of 59 days of pure sunshine may have an impact on physical and mental health. With the changing of the seasons, it’s better to be proactive and develop a plan to incorporate more sunlight into daily activities. So, when winter arrives and you feel yourself become down in the dumps, remember it might be the case for the winter blues.

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