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Monday, October 27, 2014

Got the Winter Blues? -- Shedding Light on Winter Depression

For most people, especially those living in northern states, winter brings a kind of sad feeling that is often associated with less sunshine and more time spent indoors. If you are one of those people experiencing the winter blues, you are not alone. About 10 million people in the U.S. suffer from a condition called SAD.

What is SAD?

SAD stands for seasonal affective disorder. It is a form of depression that can range from mild to severe, and it occurs during the winter months due to a lack of sunlight. Sunlight activates the chemical serotonin in the brain, which affects moods. When the days are shorter during the winter months, less sunlight will cause a reduced level of serotonin and ultimately change the way we feel.

Symptoms of SAD

If you have all of these symptoms during the winter, you are probably experiencing SAD: insomnia, irritability, fatigue, lack of concentration, increased appetite and weight gain, and sleeping more. Some people even get SAD during the spring and summer with symptoms that can include loss of appetite and weight loss. Either way, you are not imagining things and you are not alone.

Treatment for SAD

Some of the more obvious treatments for SAD is to get outside into the natural sunlight as much as possible, or arrange your furniture so you have a nice, comfy chair that faces the sunlight where you can sit and soak up the sun's rays. There are even forms of lighting that act like the natural sun to prevent symptoms of SAD. For more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants or light therapy.

For more information on SAD, visit
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