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Seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder
It’s that time of year again: cold weather and shorter, darker days. As we welcome the winter season, it’s important to notice changes in our mood and energy level.

Notice changes in sleep, concentration, energy level, and mood. The colder months can throw off chemicals in our brains that impact these factors. You may be experiencing more than “the winter blues.” Seasonal affective disorder (SAD — also called seasonal depression) may be the culprit. SAD can impact daily routine and well-being.

Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder

The difference between SAD and depression is timing. SAD occurs during the same time each year; symptoms fade after winter. If you have noticed significant changes that occur during the same season for more than two years, talk to your doctor.

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Increased sleeping
  • Feeling tired
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Feeling anxious
  • Weight gain
  • Increased appetite
  • Isolating from social circle


Treatment for seasonal affective disorder

Talk with your doctor about symptoms and write down when and how often they occur. As always, get outdoors (even when cloudy) and eat a well-balanced diet to alleviate symptoms. Stick to your normal routine as much as possible. Keep up with moderate physical activity and social events.

Research suggests “light therapy” can also help. Using a light box each day can “reset” chemicals in the brain that control sleep and alertness. It suggested that our circadian rhythm becomes disrupted due to the shorter and darker days.

Other treatment options include anti-depression medications and counseling. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment option for you. It’s important to discuss the difference between “the winter blues” and SAD.