What is seasonal depression?
Seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is one type of depression. It happens during the winter months, when there is less sunlight, and most often lifts during spring and summer.
What are the causes and signs of seasonal depression?
The specific cause of SAD is unknown. As with many mental health problems, family history, age and your body's normal chemical makeup, including your biological clock and melatonin levels, all play a role.
Signs often start in the fall and may last into the winter months, draining your energy. You may feel moody. But don’t think it’s simply a case of the “winter blues.” Proper care can help keep your mood steady.
Treating seasonal depression
To find out if you have seasonal depression, your doctor will most likely do an exam that includes questions about your mood and your lifestyle, including sleeping and eating patterns. Your doctor will also check for physical signs of depression, such as those described above.
SAD may be treated with light therapy, the use of a special type of light for 30 minutes every day. But this alone may not work for everyone. Some people may need drugs and other types of care to help lessen the symptoms.
Other options for care may also include:
- Changes in diet
- Learning to lower stress
- Spending time in a sunny place during winter months
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