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Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the days get shorter and sunlight decreases during the winter, some people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  SAD is defined as recurring depression with seasonal onset and remission.  Symptoms include changes in sleep patterns, eating habits and mood.  Seventy-five percent of people with SAD are women.

Varying levels of melatonin and serotonin are thought to cause SAD.  Light therapy is effective for SAD because it boosts levels of these hormones.  It is commonly the first-line therapy for diagnosed SAD patients.  WestBridge Medical Director, Troy Pulas, suggests increasing light exposure from 15 minutes to 30-45 minutes over a 4-6 week period.  Being outside on sunny days is also helpful!

The FDA approved Wellbutrin XL for treatment of SAD back in June of 2006.  However, before trying medication therapy, consider engaging in healthy activities in combination with psychotherapy, such as exercise, winter vacations to sunny climates, meditation, keeping a journal, reading and visiting friends.

Source: MSN Health & Fitness

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