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Every winter, half a million people in the U.S. slip into Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It feels like depression but the symptoms are temporary.
SAD is a response to the shorter days of winter. The disorder can last from September to April with the peak occurring in December, January and February.
People with SAD may have an imbalance of melatonin and serotonin — two chemicals that regulate a person's sleep cycle, energy level and mood. (We produce more melatonin when it's dark, which causes a person to feel sleepy and lethargic. We make more serotonin when we're exposed to sunlight. So during the winter months, we associate lower levels of serotonin with depression.)
Some of the most common signs of SAD include:
People with SAD feel like themselves again by mid-spring or early summer. Until then, there are things people with SAD can do to feel better. Talk to your doctor about these common treatments:
SAD is more than just the winter blues or a bad mood you experience because it's cold outside. If you feel these symptoms for three consecutive winter seasons, consult your doctor or a mental health professional.
How do you combat feeling SAD in the winter months? Share your thoughts in the comments below. You can also share this blog using the social media buttons at the top and bottom of this page.
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