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Treating seasonal affective disorder during cold and dreary weather

Seasonal affective disorder is a cyclical, seasonal condition, meaning signs and symptoms are present only during certain months of the year, and then go away.
Updated: Jan. 21, 2020 at 9:39 AM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Sharon Dexheimer, a social worker at Mayo Clinic Health System, joined KEYC News 12 This Morning to discuss seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Seasonal affective disorder is a cyclical, seasonal condition, meaning signs and symptoms are present only during certain months of the year, and then go away. Typically those with SAD experience symptoms in the fall and winter, and then those symptoms recede in the spring and summer.

Those with seasonal affective disorder can experience feelings of depression, and then may withdraw socially, oversleep, overeat and gain weight. Other symptoms include headaches, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.

What causes of seasonal affective disorder is unclear, but heredity, age, and your body’s chemical makeup all seem to play a role. Researchers also suspect that the lack of sunlight may disrupt one’s internal clock, which affects sleeping habits. This disruption may cause depression or can worsen preexisting depression.

Seasonal affective disorder can be treated in a variety of ways. Light therapy involves placing yourself near a special lightbox, exposing yourself to bright light, which can improve one’s mood. A person should meet with their primary care provider to learn which equipment is appropriate for treatment.

Other treatments include exercising regularly, getting outdoors, and avoiding nighttime use of computers, tablets or phones, especially in bed.

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