A  A  A   Print
SAD: Let the Light In

SAD: Let the Light In

During the dark days of winter, some people develop signs of depression that are tied to the changing amount of daylight. This type of depression is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

The symptoms of SAD can appear gradually or suddenly, and may be mild or severe, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Symptoms can include fatigue, lack of interest in regular activities, withdrawal from social relationships, a craving for high-carbohydrate foods, and weight gain. Symptoms usually ease or disappear when spring arrives.

Women are more likely to suffer from SAD. People who work long hours inside buildings with few windows or during long periods of cloudy weather are most prone to develop SAD, the APA says.

If you have mild symptoms of SAD, you may find relief by increased exposure to light. You can increase your exposure by taking long walks outdoors, especially on sunny days, or rearranging your home or workspace so that you are near a window during the day. The brighter the light, the more effective it is. Regular exercise and stress management techniques also may help.

If your symptoms are more severe—they affect your daily life—talk to your health care provider about light therapy, also called phototherapy. This involves the simple procedure of repeated sessions of sitting in front of a very bright light.

Medication may also help: The antidepressant Wellbutrin XL was approved by the FDA in 2006 for prevention of SAD. Treatment is started in the fall, before symptoms begin, and tapered off in the spring. It should be used with extra caution in adolescents or children, who should then be closely monitored for suicidal thoughts and behavior.

 
Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.