Combating seasonal affective disorder

Published: Feb. 5, 2020 at 3:50 PM EST
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Here in Michigan, the sunshine has been hard to come by in recent weeks and some say that could lead to seasonal affective disorder, which is also known as SAD.

SAD is a type of depression that changes with the seasons.

"We're missing the sunshine to get out and get a little bit more active. Taking the dog for a walk or whatever, you don't do as much of that on a cold, gloomy day," said Theresa Shoemaker.

With the limited amount of sunshine this time of year, SAD can become more prominent.

"I just remind folks to connect with your family and friends and talk and have those joyful interactions and the sun will come," said Guy Finne.

"I just work and sleep. I do use my sun lamp at night and it does help. It helps with depression a lot and if you're missing vitamin D," said Dawn Bothun.

Symptoms of SAD often mimic those symptoms of depression including changes in eating or sleeping habits, an increase in irritability or moodiness and a lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed.

"And the biggest indicator that it's causing an issue is if it starts impacting your functioning, right? So you're starting to miss school, you're starting to miss work, you're canceling plans with friends," said Heather Geertz, of the Zumbro Valley Health Center Clinical director.

While anyone is susceptible to SAD, it's more frequent in people with a family history of depression or in someone who is already diagnosed with depression. If you start to notice that these symptoms are playing a role in your life, it's important to seek help.

"I think that the biggest and most important thing is, it's okay to ask for help. There are resources out there to help you and it doesn't mean something is wrong with you, or it's something abnormal. It's completely normal," Geertz said.

Taking a mid-winter vacation to someplace sunny can also help--almost like light therapy.

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