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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

or those of us that live in the Midwest or in colder months, we may have heard about or experienced seasonal affective disorder (SAD) sometime in our lives.

SAD affects 10 million Americans each year and is commonly caused by a lack of sunlight due to the late fall/winter seasons. Another 1-2 million people experienced mild symptoms of SAD during this time. The months of December through February are the most severe months of SAD and affect women more than men by a ratio of 4:1. The average age for people who suffer from SAD is 18 to 30 but it can affect anyone.


Seasonal affective disorder is different than Depression because it goes away during the warmer months, however, it can be hard to identify the difference and may need to be treated similarly if the symptoms are severe enough.

Symptoms:


· Lack of interest in normal activities

· Social withdrawal

· High-carb cravings, sugar, and sweets

· Weight gain

· Fatigue, disturbed sleep, narcoleptic symptoms, oversleeping, daytime fatigue

· Negative thoughts and feelings of guilt.

· Difficulty concentrating

· Feeling agitated, frustrated, or angry

· Hopelessness, suicidal thinking


Treatments:

· Light therapy is important as our body naturally needs the light to boost our serotonin “feel good neurotransmitters” and help decrease our melatonin- “sleep hormone”

o Try to go outside for 20 minutes a day in the sunshine when possible.

o Sit by a window, when possible, for work, breaks, or at home for natural lighting

o Use light therapy: Top 10 SAD Light Therapy Lamps 2022 (buyersguide.org)

· Eat healthy foods – try to avoid carbohydrates

· Get up and move throughout the day; take modulation breaks when needed.

· Relaxation Techniques

· Mindfulness tasks and strategies

· Exercise, Yoga is great if possible

· Talk to a doctor, may need medications if it is serious enough.


Here are a few links to learn more about SAD or ideas for treatment:

13 Tips for Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder - Choosing Therapy

adults-SAD.pdf (mnmentalhealth.org)

5 Minute Mindfulness Meditation - YouTube




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