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  • Writer's pictureArwen Rasmussen

Tips to Help with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

By the GWAAR Legal Services Team

If you start feeling down during this time of year, you are not alone. Also known as the “winter blues,” Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD affects millions of people during the winter months in the northern hemisphere. This year may be especially difficult for people with SAD when added to the social isolation of COVID-19.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is not considered as a separate disorder but is a type of depression that has a recurring seasonal pattern. Seasonal Affective Disorder includes all the symptoms of major depression, such as:

• Feeling depressed for prolonged periods

• Feeling hopeless or worthless

• Having low energy

• Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed

• Having problems with sleep

• Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight

• Feeling sluggish or agitated

• Having difficulty concentrating

• Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Additionally, symptoms of SAD that reoccur in the wintertime include:

• Having low energy

• Hypersomnia

• Overeating

• Weight gain

• Craving for carbohydrates

• Social withdrawal (feel like “hibernating”)

So, if you’re feeling this way around this time every year and if it’s especially difficult this year, what can you do feel better? First, talk to your doctor. According to NIMH, there are four major types of treatment for SAD that may be used alone or in combination with each other that your doctor may recommend: medication, light therapy, psychotherapy, and vitamin D. You and your doctor can discuss the risks and benefits of different medications; the purpose of light therapy, what type of light is needed, and how to use it effectively; the advantages of psychotherapy; and finally, the value of vitamin D supplementation.

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