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Message from Dr. Corsilles

Feeling SAD?

As we approach the end of winter, are you noticing you’re still sad, especially in regards to this dark, dreary, and cold winter? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) refers to episodes of depression that occur every year during fall or winter.
Note that most people who live in places with long winter nights are not necessarily more likely to have SAD. And if you’re wondering if Seattle and its rain has a higher prevalence of SAD, it doesn’t. According to an MSNBC 2011 poll, Seattle didn’t even come close to the top 10 depressed cities. Just note that in addition to the number of cloudy days, it also took into account suicide rates, unemployment, and divorce rates.

Do you have SAD? Here are the common signs and symptoms:

  • Afternoon slumps with poor energy and concentration
  • Increased appetite for bad carbs and weight gain
  • Increased sleep
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Slow and sluggish movement
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unhappiness and irritability

How to treat SAD

As with other types of depression, antidepressants do help, whether it’s in medication or natural form like St. John’s Wort, 5-HTP or counseling.

exposure is the main contributing factor which can alter melatonin (sleep hormone) and cortisol (stress hormone). Melatonin supplementation might help b/c it increases melatonin in the brain while suppressing cortisol secretion.
Light therapy using a special lamp with a full-spectrum fluorescent light to mimic light from the sun may also be helpful for both SAD and clinical depression if you do this 30 minutes a day. The theory is that this supports melatonin synthesis and secretion, re-establishing proper sleep cycles.

Also, take long walks during the daylight hours and getting exercise will help. Keep active socially, even if it involves some effort.

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