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Healthy You

Winter Got You Down?

Monday, January 08, 2018 7:05 AM

As the days get shorter and the temperatures continue to drop during winter, some people experience depression-like symptoms. Kayleigh Georgia Parent, L.C.S.W, Individual and Relational Psychotherapy, at NorthShore shines some light on commonly asked questions relating to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). 

Q: What is seasonal affective disorder?

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that affects a person during the same time each year.
  • Anyone can get SAD, but it’s most common with people who live in areas where winter days are short and there is limited sunlight.

Q: What are the symptoms of SAD?

  • Feeling sad or moody
  • Loss of interest in usually pleasurable things
  • Eating more and craving carbohydrates
  • Gaining weight
  • Sleeping more and feeling drowsy during the day

Q: How many people are affected?

  • It is estimated that half million (500,000) people in the U.S. have SAD.

Q: Why do many people experience depression before the holidays?

  • Typically the days of little sunshine
  • The stress of the season

Q: How can people combat seasonal depression? Any concrete tips?

  • Light therapy may help.  Sitting in front of a high-intensity fluorescent lamp (usually 10,000 Lux) for 30 mins to 2 hours can help.
  • Sometimes people respond better to an antidepressant and specialized treatment called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).
  • Depression, regardless of cause, shows up as negative thoughts and feelings.  Ruminating about negative thoughts and feelings can bring us down.
  • CBT teaches that negative thoughts and behaviors, while influenced by such things as a lack of sunlight, are still within a person’s ability to change.

Are you affected by the change of the season? What do you do to stay active even with less sunshine?