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If you get SAD this winter, get help

Aaron Krause • Nov 21, 2012 at 9:50 AM

As days grow shorter and daylight is reduced, many people begin to feel a change in their mood and behaviors that may lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Symptoms typically begin in October and subside in March or April.

It is normal to have some days when you feel down. However, the Huron County General Health District wants you to know that if your symptoms interfere with your daily activities on more days than not, it may be wise to seek the help of a health care professional.

Symptoms may include any of the following:

n Lack of motivation

n Hopelessness

n Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that are normally enjoyed

n Difficulty concentrating

n Increase in appetite

n Weight gain

n Increase in sleep, or change in normal sleep patterns

n Irritability

n Social withdrawal

n Low energy

n Thoughts of suicide

The good news is that SAD treatment is very effective.

Light therapy, which is the first line of defense, involves viewing a special intensity bright light that mimics sunlight. Between 50 percent and 80 percent of light therapy users experience reversal of depressive symptoms with continued use. In some cases, antidepressant medications may be prescribed in conjunction with light therapy. Also, getting outside, even on cloudy days, provides more light intensity than typical inside lighting.

Some other ways to help manage SAD are:

n Eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains

n Engaging in exercise, or if you already do, exercise more often. This includes aerobic, strength and stretching exercises.

n Taking medications as directed

n Avoiding alcohol

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