- By Deb Balzer
Seasonal Affective Disorder or a Case of the Winter Blues
The winter has been especially harsh for millions of Americans with record snowfalls and extreme temperatures forcing many to stay indoors due to inclement weather. Short days, lack of sunlight and cold temperatures especially in the northern areas of the U.S. are being blamed for bouts of cabin fever and the winter blues. You may also hear people refer to seasonal affective disorder or SAD this winter, however, there are some distinct differences.
Mark A. Frye, M.D., says SAD is a significant cyclical mood disorder that affects patients most winters beginning in late fall or early winter when the skies are gray during the day or the sun sets early.
While many people, especially during a difficult winter, struggle with cabin fever and winter blues, SAD depressive symptoms can be severe and functionally disabling. Dr. Frye says SAD is a mood disorder much like bipolar disorder or major depression but specifically related to the change of seasons.
Journalists: Soundbites with Dr. Frye are in the downloads.
Treatments for SAD include the use of light therapy boxes which have been proven to be effective with generally little risk. Dr. Frye says the antidepressant, Wellbutrin, has shown success when taken as a preventative. He also recommends embracing a healthy living strategy that includes plenty of exercise for anyone who may be experiencing SAD or a case of the winter blues.