Despite the holidays being right around the corner, as the days get shorter and the nights get longer, many people get SAD.
SAD, seasonal affective disorder, is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year, most commonly in the winter. Symptoms of the disorder begin in early to late fall and continue through the winter months.
According to the National Institutes of Health, three out of four SAD sufferers are women and the main age of onset for the disorder is between 18 and 30, which makes female college students highly susceptible to the disorder.
A study done in Norway in 2005 by a team of doctors on patients with SAD found that 96 percent showed signs of sadness, 96 percent had decreased activity, 86 percent also had anxiety issues and 86 percent had irritability.
Norma Canals, a social worker, says that SAD has become increasingly more common in the patients that she sees. She attributes this to the lack of sunlight in the winter months and people’s strong connection to technology.
Canals said that because there is less sunlight people are naturally more inclined to stay indoors and partake in activities that require no physical exertion such as, online shopping, watching TV or sleeping. She said it is important to make sure to stay active despite the lack of daylight hours.
“Try to walk outside, even in the winter sun, try to get exposed light in the afternoon when the sun is still up,” Canals said.
A lack of light is a major cause of SAD, so assuring that you get enough light from either the natural sun or specially designed SAD lamps is extremely important for those suffering from the disorder.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, those who suffer from SAD would benefit from a bright light in the morning and consistent light therapy throughout the duration of their symptoms.
This light therapy is done with an extremely bright light that mimics the light from the sun. This treatment should be started before the onset of your symptoms, in the fall or early winter. The most effective method, according to the NIMH, is to sit a few feet away from the light for 30 minutes a day in the morning in order to mimic the natural sunrise.
Canals also recommends therapy to talk through the depression and learn what triggers it and how to cope with and overcome the disorder.