Seasonal Affective Disorder

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seasonal-depressionThe slight chill in the air and a series of damp dark days signal that fall is upon us. The change in the season also means that some people will see an increase in depressive symptoms.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects about 6% of the US population, and is a type of depression that occurs as the seasons change. Most people experience symptoms during the fall and the winter. The symptoms are the same as major depression, but unlike major depression are linked to the changing of seasons;

• Feeling miserable and sad almost everyday?

• Losing interest in most activities?

• Feeling anxious or irritable?

• Having trouble concentrating or remembering?

• Feeling tired?

• Feeling guilty?

• Sleeping too much or too little?

• Eating too much or too little?

• Have medically unexplained aches and pains?

• Thinking of death or suicide?

 Find more about the symptoms of major depression

If you find that you or a loved one starts to experience any of these symptoms as we move into the fall and winter, talk to your doctor about SAD and the available treatments. If you or a loved one ever has thoughts of death or suicide, seek immediate help. Contact your doctor, go to your local emergency room, or call 1-800-273-TALK.

Like major depression, SAD can be treated with medication and therapy, but people with SAD also respond very well to light therapy. Light therapy can be effective on its own and in combination with medication and therapy. Light boxes (like the ones Verilux donated to us for last year’s Strides Against Stigma event) mimic outdoor light, and are thought to cause a chemical change in your brain, which lifts your mood and eases your symptoms. Light boxes are typically used for about 30 minutes each morning.

To learn more about SAD and light boxes, visit the Mayo Clinic’s website.

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