Take the SAD Out of your Winter

It’s normal to feel a little nostalgic for long, warm summer days after they’ve been replaced by short, chilly ones. At least in Arizona we don’t have to deal with the abrupt shift to early darkness that accompanies the end of daylight savings time.

Some people, though, experience a sharper drop in mood and motivation with winter’s arrival.

If you or someone you love seems to spiral downward at this time of the year, the culprit could well be seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It can lead to physical as well as emotional symptoms, with some sufferers reporting increased appetite, especially for sweet and starchy food, and noticing a heaviness in their arms and legs.

These accompany lower mood and energy, increased irritability and feelings of hopelessness that interfere with their home and work lives.

Fortunately, some remedies have been developed. If these do not seem to be effective for you, contact your physician about additional treatment options.

  • Light exposure — This is the most commonly used form of treatment. Consider investing in a light therapy box or lamp that gives off at least 10,000 lumens. These can be found at numerous sizes, shapes and price points but make sure they filter out most or all UV rays and are intended for use with SAD.

Most experts recommend sitting in front of the light without looking directly into the lamp for 30 minutes each morning.

  • Talk therapy — Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT has been adapted specifically for SAD with results that meet or exceed what people can get from light therapy alone, especially over the long run.

It is offered both in individual and group therapy formats.

  • Vitamin D supplements — It’s been found that many people with SAD also have low levels of the “sunshine vitamin,” so adding to your dietary intake of it may help ease your symptoms, though the research on its effectiveness has shown mixed results.

There are many online sources for information about SAD and ways to cope with it, including www.beatthewinterblues.info.