Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is most prominent in late fall/early winter and can be treated. (Photo courtesy of Metro)
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is most prominent in late fall/early winter and can be treated. (Photo courtesy of Metro)

VAN WERT – According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 3 million people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), commonly referred to as seasonal depression.

Kelsey Brokamp, Certified Nurse Practitioner at Van Wert Health Internal Medicine, said that SAD is often caused by a chemical imbalance like typical depression but occurs most often in the late fall/early winter time period. However, SAD can also happen during the spring to summer change.

“A lot of times this will happen to people year after year,” said Brokamp. “If this is something that has happened to you last year and the year before it is something we definitely want to watch out for in the following years.”

Brokamp said that typical symptoms include hopelessness, worthlessness, feeling down, not enjoying activities a person typically would enjoy, fatigue, changes in weight, appetite changes, difficulty concentrating, and being easily agitated.

Treatment usually involves anti-depressants, therapy, and light therapy. Light therapy, while not as common of a treatment, is used to treat SAD by exposing the patient to artificial light.

Brokamp said that medication, one of the most typical forms of treatment, can be started when a patient is beginning to show symptoms of SAD and can be stopped as the symptoms resolve.

“Typically those symptoms resolve as summer and daylight extends and the weather gets a little nicer,” said Brokamp. “As that happens we can taper off that medication.”

Brokamp said that if a person is having symptoms seasonally they should seek help because there are treatment options available.

Brokamp said patients are able to see their family physician for concerns about Seasonal Affective Disorder and said that the most effective treatment might involve a family physician and a counselor so that the patient can learn coping mechanisms.

Brokamp also said that light plays a role in of symptoms of SAD and suggests that people get out and get as much sunlight as possible.

“Get out and take a walk, and get as much light as you can,” said Brokamp who noted that people can also opt for purchasing lights in their home that brighten earlier than natural daylight.

Brokamp also suggests opening curtains to allow light into the home as much as possible.

Naturally, people can improve their mood and help combat SAD by getting enough sleep and eating healthy meals. Getting out and socializing can help improve the effects of SAD as well.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.