Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder

With fall and winter comes shorter, darker days, which have an effect on our moods. This change of pace can trigger a type of depression, known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). People suffering from SAD may feel overly tired, lack motivation, and in extreme cases can lead to suicide, said Dr. Angelos Halaris, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Seasonal affective disorder should not be taken lightly.”

SAD can begin in October and last until April. Until then, here are tips to get through the season and reduce your risk for the condition:

Get outside: Get outside for at least 30 minutes a day and avoid wearing sunglasses during this period of time. If possible, try to expose the skin on your arms to the sun.

Let light inside: Open curtains and blinds to allow sunlight in. Also consider getting a high-intensity light box specifically designed for SAD therapy. Halaris does advise talking to your doctor before attempting this kind of therapy.

Exercise: Halaris explains that physical activity releases endorphins and other brain chemicals that help you feel better.

Consider mediation: If nothing works, medication could be an option. Talk with a doctor if extra sun exposure, indoor lights, and exercise are not effective in treating symptoms.


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