Seasonal Affective Disorder: What You Need to Know

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a condition that happens during the shorter days of the year, when individuals are exposed to fewer and fewer minutes of daylight. While these darkening days may be a mere annoyance for some, in others, the reduced daylight hours can have a profound effect on the body, and on the brain. This is because daylight is one of the things which can trigger our brains to produce the chemicals which are responsible for mood regulation, appetite, and even sleep: Serotonin, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine. But, there's good news. If you're one of the estimated 10 million Americans who suffers from SAD, there's hope.

If a lack of sunlight is causing the problem, then more sunlight might just help. That's the theory behind phototherapy, one of the treatments for SAD, which involves using special lights that mimic natural sunlight. For some people, this is one of the easiest and most effective treatments. There are special lights you can buy and use in the comfort of your own home.

Additionally, therapy or counseling is an excellent help for all forms of depression, not just seasonally-triggered depression. If you are suffering, seek help. There's no need to shoulder that burden alone. Finding effective strategies to help shift your mindset can empower you and help you cope when times are tough. Your health care provider can help connect you with a certified mental health professional who is experienced with SAD.

Finally, medications are available for the treatment of SAD. Every person is different, and each different medication has the potential to work differently for you, so it's worth talking to your doctor about the options that are available. Depression and SAD are more than just "the bummers." They're real, often debilitating conditions that can take over your life, but they don't have to. If your symptoms are seasonal, then getting on medication before their onset can help you get through the darker parts of the year.

SAD can darken your days, but there's hope, and you're not alone. Talk to your doctor today, and get on the road to joy again.