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Prevea Health

Seasonal Affective Disorder...more than the winter blues


As it turns out, your mood can be influenced by the weather. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of sadness and depression that occurs at a defined time of the year, usually in winter. Most of us will experience this to some degree, but if the sadness and depression goes beyond the “winter blues”, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). 

Symptoms include:
  • Sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Changes in weight
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Studies show people who live in places with long winter nights are at high risk for SAD, and it may begin during the teen years or adulthood. SAD occurs more often in women than men.

Thankfully, there are many ways to combat this disorder and return to your normal mood. To manage symptoms at home:
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Exercise more often

If home remedies aren’t enough, the following options may be available from your health care provider:
  • Light therapy: This involves a special lamp with a very bright light that mimics light from the sun. If light therapy is going to help, it will alleviate symptoms within three to four weeks.
  • Medications: Antidepressant medicines can also be used to treat SAD.

Using alcohol or illegal drugs can make the depression worse, so avoid them! Although there is no test for SAD, your health care provider can make a diagnosis by asking about your history of symptoms. Talk to him or her about how you have been feeling. 

Don’t let Seasonal Affective Disorder stop you in your (snowy) tracks!

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