Depression - winter; SAD
As with other types of depression, antidepressant medications and talk therapy can be effective.
Taking long walks during the daylight hours and getting exercise can make the symptoms better. Keep active socially, even if it involves some effort.
Light therapy using a special lamp with a very bright fluorescent light (10,000 lux) to mimic light from the sun may also be helpful.
- Sit a few feet away from the light box for about 30 minutes every day, preferably in the early morning, to mimic sunrise. An improvement in the symptoms of depression should occur within 3 - 4 weeks if light therapy is going to help.
- Side effects include eye strain and headache. People who take drugs that make them more sensitive to light, such as certain psoriasis drugs, antibiotics, or antipsychotics, should avoid light therapy. A check-up with your eye doctor is recommended before starting treatment.
Symptoms commonly get better on their own with the change of seasons.
The outcome is good with continuous treatment, although some people have the disorder throughout their lives.
Seasonal affective disorder can sometimes progress to a major depressive syndrome.
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
Review Date: 02/14/2010
Reviewed By: Fred K. Berger, MD, Addiction and Forensic Psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.