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Could it be seasonal affective disorder?

Mar. 5, 2013
 
Justin Schoen
Justin Schoen
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→ What is it?

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a kind of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter when when the amount of natural sunlight decreases. Scientists think SAD occurs in some people when their bodiesí daily rhythms are upset by short days and long nights. Research has found that the hormone melatonin is affected by this seasonal change.

♦People who live in places with long winter nights are at greater risk for SAD. Symptoms build up slowly and depression generally lifts during spring and summer.

→ How to treat it:

Light therapy is effective. Follow your health care providerís instructions about how to use light therapy (10,000 lux). A common practice is to sit a couple of feet away from the light box for about 30 minutes every day. This is usually done in the early morning, to mimic sunrise.

Severe cases will also need psychotherapy and medications.

Source: Dr. Justin Schoen of Marshfield Clinic and National Institute of Mental Health

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