AlzU Blog

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Winter solstice is upon us again, and along with shorter days and less frequent sunshine comes an increase in depression for many people, including many who are caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In fact, according to recent studies, winter solstice is particularly difficult for most people who suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Depression can occur anytime of the year, but SAD is a specific type of depression that affects people on a seasonal level each year, usually at the same time-beginning in the fall/winter season most prevalent in the northern hemisphere where winter days are very short and sunlight is limited.  The farther north you travel, the more often SAD occurs.

According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of SAD include: sadness, lack of motivation for activities and/or socialization, low energy level, mood shifts, sleeping way too long, change in appetite and anxiety.  Women are more likely to suffer from SAD than men and of course those in colder northern geographic areas are at greater risk than those who live in sunny climates. 

If you recognize symptoms mentioned above of SAD in yourself or a loved one, be sure to notify your physician. Effective treatment may include talk therapy, medications for depression or perhaps even light therapy which has been shown to help.  Light therapy involves sitting in front of a special light box that emits a bright light and helps to offset the lack of sunlight in winter months. 

Tips for management of SAD
Get plenty of sleep particularly during the winter months
Eat a well-balanced healthy diet with plenty of bright colored fruits and vegetables
Exercise for at least 120 minutes per week
Stay active and socially engaged
Try getting involved in winter sports such as snow shoeing or cross country skiing, ice skating or simply take a daily walk outdoors
Take a class on something that really interests you at a local community college
Listen to music that is uplifting

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