Every winter up to 20% of the U.S. population is affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Some symptoms include sadness, depressions, irritability, decreased energy, changes in sleep or eating patterns, and thoughts of suicide
The effects range from mild to severe, especially if not treated. According information provided by the Mayo Clinic the causes of SAD are largely unknown, but some risk factors are known.
Women are diagnosed more than men, people who live farther from the equator are more likely to be affected, those with other family members who have been affected, and those who already have a depressive disorder are all more likely to develop SAD.
The National Institutes of Health recommend getting enough sleep, eating well, monitoring for warning signs, and getting enough exercise as ways to mitigate the effects of SAD.
They also state that the use of drugs and alcohol can increase the chances of depression, the severity of depression and can affect judgment about suicide.
The most basic form of treatment is light therapy which involves exposure to a special light that has the same wavelengths as sunlight. Researches think that these wavelengths of light effect chemicals related to mood in the brain.
Another mode of treatment is through medication if light therapy doesn’t work. Talk therapy or counseling are also an option for treating SAD. Researchers believe that there is a biochemical basis for SAD but counseling can help alleviate the effects.
Before starting any type of treatment see a doctor and talk about symptoms and types of treatment. The Counseling and Wellness Center on campus is also a good resource. Call (435) 283-7136 to make a free appointment.