Seasonal Depression Or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): What Is It? What Can I do To Prevent It?

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With the end of summer, bright and warm days, many of us start to feel less energy, sadness, have some weight gain, difficulty to concentrate, and wish to be in bed for longer periods of time. When these symptoms are exaggerated, affecting an individual’s personal or professional life, this condition is known as Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

The exact causes of Seasonal Depression are not clear. Studies show that our mood is affected in some degree by the amount of light that we are exposed to during the day. There are chemical changes in the brain caused by the reduction of exposure to sunlight. It is believed that this is one of the main reasons why it is much more common to experience SAD during late fall and winter than during the sprin g or summer time.

Some symptoms of Seasonal Depression:
• Depressed mood
• Energy loss
• Poor concentration
• Sleeping more hours
• Craving for sugar/carbohydrate
• Weight  gain
• Irritability
• Feelings of hopeless

Do not get embarrassed about having some of these symptoms. They are common, and can be prevented. However, if they are severe, you will need professional help.  SAD can be a serious disorder, with risk of suicide in some individuals, and may require hospitalization.

Tips to prevent it:

• Increase daily exposure to sunlight, keep shades open, and lights on
• Walking or other physical activity (daily) outdoors. Midday is the best time, as the light is usually stronger
• Be positive. Make fun plans.
• Watch fun movies, with bright pictures
• Connect to other people. Do not be isolated.

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Treatment:
• Light therapy (a special type of light is used for this treatment)
• Psychotherapy
• Medication

Local Resource for Prevention: Group: “Enlighten your Life” – It is not a psychotherapeutic group, it is a group designed for individuals who want to have fun and learn tools to live a happier life. You do not need to have symptoms of seasonal depression to join the group, but a wish to feel happy and have fun! Please contact us for further information at (309) 269-6345 or [email protected] (We will offer groups in English and Spanish).

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