If you notice that your mood, energy level and motivation go way down around this time of year, only to return to normal in April, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). What can you do about this?
Dr. Angelos Halaris says, “This condition, characterized by depression, exhaustion and lack of interest in people and regular activities, interferes with a person’s outlook on life and ability to function properly.
“The most common type of this mood disorder occurs during the winter months. SAD is thought to be related to a chemical imbalance in the brain, brought on by lack of light due to winter’s shorter days and typically overcast skies.” The American Psychiatric Association reports that as many as 10 to 20% of people in the US have a mild form of SAD, and there may be a genetic vulnerability to developing it.
Bright light affects brain chemistry in a helpful way and acts as an antidepressant. “With less exposure to light in the winter months, many people become depressed,’ says Halaris. “Those susceptible to SAD are affected even more so. If at all possible, get outside during winter, even if it is overcast. Expose your eyes to natural light for one hour each day. At home, open the drapes and blinds to let in natural light.”
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