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Depression
Seasonal Affective Disorder
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Help for Seasonal Depression

By Julie Davis
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 14, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- As many as 20 percent of Americans get the winter blues when days grow shorter.

For instance, you might feel blue around the holidays because of stress or if loved ones are far away. It's usually mild and clears up on its own in a short amount of time.

But up to 6 percent of the population experiences the serious mood change during winter months called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. This type of depression goes away in the spring, but comes back year after year.

Unlike the winter blues, SAD is a medical condition directly related to the lack of daylight. It's more common in women and in northern parts of the country, where there's less sunshine and winter is more desolate.

Common SAD symptoms include:

  • Deep sadness or anxiety.
  • Hopelessness or helplessness.
  • Irritability.
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities.
  • Fatigue or lack of energy.
  • Difficulty with concentration, memory and decision-making.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Changes in weight.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

SAD is often treated with light therapy. This involves simply sitting in front of a high-intensity light box for about 30 minutes once a day.

Antidepressants are another option. But the talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, may help the most. You'll learn to identify and stop negative thought patterns and find social outlets to renew your interest in life. Research shows that CBT does a better job of reducing depression and keeping SAD from returning than light therapy.

If you're feeling beyond blue this winter, talk to your doctor. While SAD goes away on its own, there's no reason to live with it through a long winter.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has a detailed description of SAD, including its causes and how it's diagnosed.

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=727353

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
The list of medical terms above are retrieved automatically from the article.

Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
Be advised that HealthDay articles are derived from various sources and may not reflect your own country regulations. The Health On the Net Foundation does not endorse opinions, products, or services that may appear in HealthDay articles.


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