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November is Seasonal Affective Disorder Awareness Month

Change in Seasons…can bring on mood changes and fall and winter weather can trigger some seasonal depression. Monitor yourself regularly for changes in your mood and early warning signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may include the following:
  1. Sadness and or loss of interest in things you previously enjoyed

  2. Lack of Energy, Fatigue, and Exhaustion

  3. Problems with Motivation

  4. Increase in Appetite, especially for sweets or carbohydrates, and comfort foods

  5. Hypersomnia or oversleeping, including feelings of exhaustion even when getting enough sleep

  6. Difficulty with concentration or focus

  7. Social withdrawal or preferring to isolate from others; avoiding friends, family, or social activities

  8. Feelings of hopelessness or guilt

  9. Thoughts of death or not wanting to be alive

Who is At Risk for SAD?
  1. Women are more at risk than men

  2. People living in parts of the country far from the equator with less sunlight

  3. Those with a family history of Depression or Mood Disorder

  4. Those with a diagnosis of Depression or Bipolar Disorder

  5. People usually experience their first episode between the ages of 18 and 30

Treatment for SAD Includes the Following:
  1. Adding a supplement of Vitamin D

  2. Light therapy with daily morning exposure of about 30 minutes to a light box that simulates sunlight. You do not need a prescription to purchase a light box, but you can ask your provider about this.

  3. Dawn simulators, which gradually increase light in your bedroom for 30 minutes prior to awakening, can have a beneficial effect as well.

  4. Get natural sunlight by going outdoors in the afternoon when the sun is the brightest or keep curtains and blinds open and sit near a window.

  5. After consultation with a mental health professional, and after proper diagnosis, certain prescription medications, like SSRIs, may prove beneficial.

  6. Talk therapy can help you generate a list of coping strategies to get your through the winter months.

  7. If you can take a vacation to a sunny destination, this will likely alleviate some of your symptoms.

  8. Eat healthy, avoid alcohol, and maintain an exercise routine.

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