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How to Handle Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Posted: October 11, 2007

For many, wintertime means holidays spent with loved ones, warm nights snuggled by the fire and cool, sunny afternoons on the slopes. However, for up to eight million Americans who suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this time of year can be very difficult. In fact, even more people experience sub-syndromal SAD, a mild form of SAD often referred to as "the winter blues" or "the winter blahs."

The nonprofit organization Mental Health America answers questions about SAD so that you can help yourself and your clients deal with symptoms during this time of year.

What is SAD?
SAD is a mood disorder associated with depression and related to seasonal variations of light. Brought on by the shorter days and longer nights, symptoms disappear completely in the spring.

Who gets it?
People in northern geographic areas, where days are shorter, are most affected. Women get SAD four times more often than men and women in their thirties are most at risk. It is not common in children and, for adults, risk decreases with age.