‘SAD Season’: Depression Risks Rise as Days Get Shorter

By Cara Muriz

Health Day Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 7, 2022 (HealthDay News) — As daylight hours dwindle, people’s moods can tank.

Rest assured, you are not alone. It’s SAD season for those suffering from seasonal affective disorder. This is the depression, fatigue and withdrawal that short days and long nights often bring.

“Seasonal mood swings can come in many shapes and forms,” ​​said Dr. Dorothy Sett, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

“It can be a clinical diagnosis of depression, which we call SAD, but some people experience a milder form,” Sit said. “A clinical diagnosis means it’s quite severe. It affects people all day for several weeks and can affect their functioning. In mild cases, people may feel a little worse, but get over it. Can. Still, it will feel a little difficult to work.”

In addition to feeling lethargic, people may become hungrier, crave carbohydrates, overeat and gain weight. They may also feel less motivated and enjoy activities less.

“It’s a form of depression that naturally cycles. It starts every fall and winter and recurs every spring and summer,” Sett said in a Northwestern Medicine news release. .

One of the main treatments for SAD is to start the day with bright light therapy. Sit recommends a unit that produces 10,000 LUX of white light 30 minutes after waking.

“This treatment provides an improvement in mood, improves a person’s functioning and can completely resolve their symptoms.” “It’s also effective for seasonal depression, pregnancy depression and some people with bipolar depression.”

Seth emphasized that it is important to use bright light under the direction of a doctor or clinician. He or she can help detect any side effects or problems that may arise, and discuss alternatives if needed.

“Light from the sun (sunlight) is the primary regulator that provides signals for our body’s circadian rhythm,” Sit said. “Lack of significant exposure to light can affect it. Bright light therapy is used to increase our circadian rhythm, which boosts our mood. Timing light so that exposure is first thing in the morning Ho, may have a greater effect on regulating our rhythms. We are still trying to fully understand how this mechanism works.

People can also fight the winter blues by staying active. This could include hiking with the family or exploring nature. It could be exercising, learning a new skill or visiting a museum.

Maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule is also important. Naps should only be 20 to 30 minutes long, so don’t overdo it, sitting up is advised.

More information

The US National Institute of Mental Health has more on seasonal affective disorder.

Source: Northwestern Medicine, news release, November 4, 2022

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