Let the sunshine in

The shortest days of the year are here, and for some people the lack of sunlight can cause serious mood changes. This condition is called seasonal affective disorder or—appropriately—SAD.

SAD is a type of depression, and it usually lifts during spring and summer. Not everyone with SAD has the same symptoms, but they typically include:

• Sad, anxious or “empty” feelings

• Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism

• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness

• Irritability, restlessness

• Loss of interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed

• Fatigue and decreased energy

• Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions

• Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping

• Changes in weight

• Thoughts of death or suicide

The good news is that SAD can often be treated with light therapy; purchasing a special light that mimics the sun’s rays may be enough to lift your mood. But nearly half of people with SAD do not respond to light therapy alone. For them, antidepressants and talk therapy help reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or combined with light therapy.

If you feel down during the winter, don’t suffer in silence. Seek help. Talk to your doctor about your mood changes.

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