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Feeling SAD? It could be Seasonal Affective Disorder

Posted by Sara Levitsky on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 Under: Depression
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is depression that shows itself at a certain time of the year.  Symptoms usually start in the late fall and progress into the winter months.  SAD can cause depression in the spring or summer, but this is not as common as in the fall and winter.  It often increases after the holidays are over and winter is not feeling as festive.

Symptoms of SAD may start out mild and become worse later in the winter:
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Social isolation
  • Increased need for sleep
  • Loss of interest in things usually enjoyed
  • Increased appetite/weight gain
  • Difficulty focusing/concentrating

There is no know cause of SAD, but some common factors may be involved:
  • Biological clock - reduced sunlight during the fall and winter can disrupt your circadian rhythm, which can cause depressed mood
  • Serotonin - reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin levels, which affects mood
  • Melatonin - seasonal changes can affect your natural hormone melatonin, which affects sleep and mood  

 There are things you can do to prevent and fight back against SAD.  Exposure to light seems to be the key.  Keep your home and workplace as bright as you can by opening blinds.  Sit near a window when you can.  Spend time outside even on cold and cloudy days.  Exercise regularly to relieve stress - especially helpful if done outside in sunlight (walking is a good choice if you aren't already into exercise).  In addition, be sure to eat healthy meals, get enough rest, and make an effort to be around people that you enjoy.  If you have the means, traveling to a sunny and warm climate can be very energizing and positive.

If you have symptoms of SAD which linger, you should see your doctor - especially if you feel so depressed that you are having suicidal thoughts or are using alcohol or drugs to cope.  Your doctor may recommend light therapy (a lightbox used indoors to mimic sunlight), medication, or psychotherapy. 

photo credit-evgeni dinev at

In : Depression 

Tags: sad "seasonal affective disorder" depression 
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