Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

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"What is SAD?

SAD is a mood disorder that is marked by depression during the same time each year. Many people who suffer from SAD are exposed to regions or climates where sunlight decreases during certain times of year like fall or winter seasons. This disorder is more than just feeling a little down during the colder months, the symptoms can cause a complete disruption to one"s life and ability to function each day. SAD is common and can resolve with the changing seasons. Some common symptoms of SAD include:


Change in mood

Increased fatigue

Hopeless feeling

Withdrawal from friend, family, or social situations

Change in appetite

Difficulty concentrating

Diagnosing SAD

Diagnosing SAD can be complicated, but there are ways healthcare providers can understand symptoms to deliver the most accurate identifications. The healthcare professional may use psychological assessments to help diagnose and treat SAD. This may start with questions about lifestyle, sleeping habits, thoughts, and mood. They may also inquire about your family history and do a physical exam, including blood tests and possibly thyroid tests to rule out potential physical conditions.

Treating SAD with Light Therapy

Doctors and other healthcare professionals recommend light therapy as a viable and effective treatment for SAD. Light therapy increases the person"s exposure to light through wavelengths similar to what you would find in the sun. This safe and beneficial treatment gives exposure to red, infrared, or blue rays while filtering out harmful UV rays. This means exposure to the life-giving elements of sunlight rays, without potentially damaging your skin in the process.

Light therapy is generally recommended first thing in the morning and should be used consistently to receive the most benefits from the treatment. Many people begin therapy in the Fall when the weather is starting to cool down and the days are slowly beginning to shorten. Light Therapy is thought to affect the chemicals in the brain that are linked to mood and sleep, thus alleviating many symptoms of SAD. Light therapy may not be a cure for everyone but it can help decrease symptoms and increase energy levels for many people. Light therapy can help you get back to being active and participating in your life, even when there is less sun outside."

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