Get Serious About Beating SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder giving you the blues? Increased light, medication and counseling may help.

Seasonal Affective Disorder giving you the blues? Increased light, medication and counseling may help.

Do the abbreviated days of winter give you the blues?  These feelings may be caused by your hormones.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs when the days get shorter and we get less exposure to outside light, which reduces serotonin levels in our bodies. This feel-good hormone calms and soothes us; when we’re deficient in serotonin we may feel fatigued, crave carbs and be more prone to gain weight.

If you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of SAD or have been diagnosed, here are some coping strategies:

  1. Try to spend some amount of time outside every day, even when it’s cloudy Overcast daylight is still beneficial.
  2. Begin using a light box in the fall, even before you feel the effects of SAD. The light box shines a full-spectrum bright light indirectly into your eyes from about 2 feet away for 10 to 15 minutes per day. You can increase this exposure up to 45 minutes, depending on your response.
  3. Eat a well-balanced diet, including sufficient vitamins and minerals as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This will energize you even if your body craves sweets and breads.
  4. Commit to exercising 30 minutes of exercise daily, 3 days a week.
  5. Stay involved with your social circle and regular activities. Social support is extremely important for those with mood disorders, especially during winter.

SAD is a treatable condition, but experts urge anyone who is experiencing depression to see your medical provider for a thorough assessment. Don’t self-diagnose this condition.

“Therapy can help with the treatment for SAD,” according to Larry Walker, PhD, psychologist at Renown Behavioral Health. “Your therapist will educate you about SAD and offer coping mechanisms and tips to prevent future episodes.”

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