Docs Want People to Get Glad This Holiday Season, Not SAD

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

It's called the most wonderful time of the year, but for about six percent of the population, the winter months aren't so wonderful.

"It happens more in the fall and winter as the days start growing shorter and we're less exposed to sunlight," psychologist Celeste Riley said. "You've probably noticed when you leave work, it's dark out so it becomes more difficult to have sun exposure."

With that, comes Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Symptoms of this winter depression include sleeping more, changes in appetite, gaining weight, a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, and anxiety. Then, add onto that the hustle and bustle of this time of year.

"Usually when our patients come in, it's the people with recurring depression, and perhaps the holiday stress gets to them or family tensions tend to surface around that time," Riley said.

But health experts say it is important for patients to seek treatment so they can decipher between just a case of the blues and a major depressive disorder.

"Cognitive behavior therapy in particular, can help people sort of adjust their thinking related to the seasons or the holidays," Riley said. "After you have had this disorder for several years, you can imagine your thinking and expectations toward the winter months would be negative."

Other popular forms of treatment include anti-depressants and light therapy.

Riley says light therapy, which utilizes a small light box, is often becoming the first line of treatment because of its minimal side effects and ability to work quickly.

Psychologists say seeking help could keep you from having a blue Christmas and holidays this year.


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