The SAD truth behind Seasonal Affect Disorder

Oct. 4, 2002, midnight | By Jennie Breads | 18 years, 3 months ago

As summer's sunny days yield to winter's frigid force, about 25 percent of Americans experience various levels of a depression known as Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD), according to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA).

The NMHA website says SAD occurs when the seasons change and disrupt a person's biological clock. People with SAD have difficulty adjusting to the shortage of sunlight in the wintertime, and they are likely to suffer from many symptoms of depression. The NMHA warns that young people and women are at the highest risk for the disorder.
According to Total Health Magazine, a lack of sunlight and vitamin D during winter can cause the body to overproduce melatonin, a sleep-related hormone, which leads to fatigue, depression, eating habit changes and an overall persistently melancholy mood.

The NMHA suggests that patients who suffer from mild symptoms of SAD should spend time outside and exercise regularly. To combat severe cases of SAD, researchers have tried subjecting patients to artificial light and prescribing antidepressants.

The NMHA advises individuals who think they might have SAD to discuss their symptoms with a doctor.

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Jennie Breads. Senior Jennifer Breads is the Managing Health Editor for this year. Aside from writing lots of health stories, Jennifer enjoys playing soccer and lacrosse and she is excited to be part of the Silver Chips team! More »

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