Fighting Seasonal Affective Disorder - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Fighting Seasonal Affective Disorder

 By: Jason Rantala


We all tend to feel down during the winter months when temperatures plummet. For some, the symptoms are much worse.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and its appropriate acronym "SAD", are very real, doctors say.

"SAD is a type of depression that kicks in for some people when the days become shorter in the winter," said psychologist Dr. Ann Latham.

Symptoms of SAD include hopelessness, lack of interest and fatigue. Fatigue and the desire to eat more carbs are especially characteristic of sad, doctors say.

"The same kind of symptoms you would see if someone's feeling depressed," said Dr. Latham.

Symptoms often begin in early winter and subside in the spring.

"Part of the diagnosis is that you can kind of reflect back and see that there is a noticeable kick in of the symptoms when the seasons change and again when daylight really is reduced," said Dr. Latham.

Tricia Kelly found her mood changing every year around the time sunlight decreases. After talking with her doctor, Tricia went to the light.

People diagnosed with SAD are often told to sit in front of a special 10,000 lux light for between a half hour to 2 hours. For many, this seems to do the trick.

The lights helps substitute for that lack of real light, cost a few hundred dollars each and can be purchased from a medical supplier or prescribed by a doctor.

Within three days Tricia noticed a difference. She now has more energy and is sleeping better.

"Over 30 days it's been and it's very beneficial," said Kelly.

So if you too are suffering from winter's dark grasp, just know, there is help.

"It's important to be able to enjoy life everyday," said Kelly.

Doctors say five percent of the U.S. population suffers from sad, but they say it's likely more.

If winter's dark has got you down, there are a few things you can do.

  • Sit close to a window in the office or at home.
  • Get outside as often as possible.
  • Exercise to help reduce symptoms.

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