OhioHealth Medical Minute: Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you live in central Ohio, this time of the year can be tough. Quite often the weather is gray, rainy, snowy, and cold. One thing we don't see in great abundance is sunshine. That can be pretty depressing, but there is something that goes even further than just longing for a nice sunny day. Some people can have real issues with something called SAD, or seasonal affective disorder.
The Mayo Clinic describes SAD as a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.
Dr. Craig Travis is the director of behavioral sciences at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center and the medical education department at Grant.
"Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mental illness that is noticeable by a clinician, and has very real consequences for those who live with it every day," Dr. Travis said.
SAD really sets in when it impacts someone's daily function.
"It gets in the way of their work, education, personal relationships because people have a tendency to be very depressed when they are having these things," Dr. Travis said.
Treatments can vary from person to person, but some can be effective.
"It can be as simple as maintaining your daily schedule, exercise some on a regular basis, that can be effective. There is something called light exposure or light therapy. Sunshine would be best, but if you can't get that, there are light therapy boxes. And lastly what we recommend is socializing with other folks. If it's really bad, we ask them to get an evaluation by a physician or mental health expert, and in some cases, medication or therapy can be used," Dr. Travis said.