Winter Blues

Winter Blues

Beating the winter blues away

With winter just around the corner, seasonal affective disorder (appropriately known by the acronym SAD) tends to boost traffic in our office.

That should come as no surprise, given that many people feel a bit glum when gray skies take over for months on end, and the winter landscape looks bleak.

SAD is more than just a blue mood, however, and it usually impacts 1 to 2 percent of the population.

SAD, which is more common in women and young people than men, falls into a broad category known as mood disorders and is caused by limited exposure to natural light. The disorder is most common during the fall and winter months, and it usually dissipates on its own when sunny skies return in the spring.

Some symptoms of SAD include:

• Feeling tired and sleeping more
• Taking less interest in favorite activities
• Eating more often and gaining weight
• Feelings of sadness and hopelessness


If you do have similar symptoms during winter months, you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder.

First, talk to your primary care physician to determine if you are suffering from SAD.

If you are positively diagnosed, there are ways to ease symptoms so you do not have to live through two seasons of depression.

Below are some of the most effective tips for treatment of the seasonal affective disorder.

    1. Increase exposure to natural light.
      1. Lift the blinds during the day to allow more light into your home.
      2. Skip sunglasses on gloomy days to take in some natural rays.
      3. Take a walk during lunch to take advantage of available light.
    2. Try Light therapy.
      1. A lightbox is a common treatment option for SAD.
      2. Treat the lightbox like the sun, and don’t look at it directly, but instead turn it on as accent lighting during a leisurely breakfast.
      3. About 30 minutes of light exposure every morning is the recommended amount.
      4. Benefits are usually noticeable within one to two weeks of use.
    3. Dawn simulators.
      1. Dawn simulators are similar to light therapy but instead act as a natural sunrise, with light gradually increasing over a period of 30 minutes to two hours.
      2. Both dawn simulators and light boxes have been shown to be equally effective treatment options for SAD.
      3. Dawn simulators come on gradually while you are waking up, allowing light to pass through the eyelids, providing the same effect as light therapy while acting as a natural alarm clock.
    4. Excercise.
      1. Exercise is an effective treatment option, not only because it boosts endorphins, improving your mood, but it also offers the option of exercising outdoors, increasing exposure to natural light and relieving symptoms of the seasonal affective disorder.

      For more information on SAD or to learn more about treatment options, please call us at 317-548-4666 or email at to schedule an appointment.

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