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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Posted on: 2013 01 07

Happy New Year everyone.  The holidays in Vermont have been snowy, cold and kind of dark.  The sun rises late and sets early.  Although the winter solstice has passed, we still have a ways to go before our days start getting longer.  I’m enjoying the snow and make an effort to go outside with my kids everyday but I am already looking forward to warm, sunny spring days where we are surrounded by lush greenery.   Winter can be especially hard if you live in much of the country where winter means shorter days, darker skies and less sunlight than say Florida.  It is estimated that over 10 million people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which causes depression.  According to Dr. David Mrazek, a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist, “People with SAD produce too much melatonin. This disrupts our internal body clock leading to depressive symptoms. If you have had episodes of depression that clearly have an onset in fall or winter followed by remission of symptoms in the spring or summer, you may have SAD.”   The website for the U.S. National Library of Medicine has a good list of the symptoms of SAD which include:

  • Depression
  • Increased appetite with weight gain
  • Increased sleep
  • Less energy and ability to concentrate
  • Loss of interest in work or other activities
  • Sluggish movements
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unhappiness and irritability

  SAD can turn into long-term depression so if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms make sure to see your doctor for a diagnosis and to discuss ways to help you through this time.   This month I will address SAD disorder around the world (what about those folks living in northern countries where it is DARK for several months?) and natural ways to help address your SAD.  Stay tuned!        

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