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Are You SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder, That Is

As you begin to feel the temperature change as well as the season around you, feelings of hopelessness and fatigue can creep in. As the amount of sunlight decreases in the fall, you may find that your energy also decreases leading to changes in mood.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder characterized by depression that usually occurs around the same time each year and lasts throughout the winter months. There are more than three million cases per year in the United States, making it very common for many people.

Signs of SAD can include:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood

  • Changes in appetite

  • Sleeping too much

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Although SAD usually only occurs in the months of less sunlight and colder weather, it can be challenging to enter this time already knowing what lies ahead. Fortunately, they are ways that you can help prevent feeling the effects of SAD.

Light therapy

Light Therapy boxes give off brighter light than regular lightbulbs that mimic sunshine and provide different wave lengths. People find this type of therapy most effective in the morning and when used for 30 minutes a day.

Talk with your doctor

Talking with a mental health professional can help best diagnose SAD since it is a form of depression. There are screenings that can be done to differentiate if you are experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder or another type of depression.

Doctors may also offer prescription antidepressants if light therapy and psychotherapy do not help.

Stick to a schedule

Making a schedule can help create a regular sleeping pattern as well as predictable times where you may step outside for some extra sun. Maintaining a regular schedule may also help regular eating patterns and ensure that daily activities get done.

Be proactive

It is important to keep yourself busy and as social as possible. Making sure you are doing things that make you feel happy. Set aside time for yourself, time with friends and family and time doing things that bring you joy.

Even though Seasonal Affective Disorder can be short term, it is important that we seek the treatment that works best. Any form of depression can limit a person’s life and prevent the ability to live life to the fullest, to enjoy family and friends and to function well at work and at home.

By getting ahead of SAD we can limit the feelings of sadness and hopelessness that the colder months can bring, and instead enjoy our lives throughout more months of the year.

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