Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression. In the U.S., SAD may affect 4 to 6% of people, while a mild form of winter-onset SAD may affect up to 20%. Women are more likely than men to get SAD.SAD shares common symptoms with standard, nonseasonal depression, such as:
- A depressed mood
- Trouble concentrating
- Increased appetite
- Weight gain
- Lack of energy
- Tendency to oversleep
Doctors aren’t certain what causes SAD. Many suggest a disrupted “body clock” – or circadian rhythm – caused by seasonal changes may be to blame. Limited daylight and outdoor activities during the winter months are often blamed for SAD.
If you think you may have SAD, call your doctor. There are ways to treat these symptoms. One way is through light therapy. Research shows that light can help get the body clock back in sync.
There are other ways you can treat SAD on your own by lifting your mood. Here are some suggestions:
- Avoid negative thoughts and try not to think too much about how bad you feel. Instead, distract yourself with your favorite hobbies.
- Be more active. Exercise can help treat SAD.
- Spend time with others. This can help improve your mood if you have SAD. It may even help prevent SAD in the first place.
*Source: WPS Live Healthy, Winter 2013