Spring ahead, fall back. Going back from daylight savings means shorter, darker days, which can trigger a type of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD affects up to 5% of the population. It’s directly linked to reduced sun exposure as a result of shorter days and/or overcast skies. That lack of sun exposure is thought to cause a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Symptoms of SAD are similar to those of non-seasonal-related depression, include fatigue, lack of interest in things you once enjoyed, and, in extreme cases, suicidal tendencies. As a result, SAD should not be taken lightly.

High season for seasonal affective disorder is October through April. Even during the shorter days, there are ways to reduce your risk of SAD and ease symptoms.

Spend at least 30 minutes outside every day. Weather permitting, exposure as much skin to the sunlight as possible, especially that on your arms, legs, chest, and back.

Open up windows to allow for as much natural light indoors as possible. Consider investing in a SAD lamp, which is a high-intensity light that helps to replace limited light exposure from the sun. Be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any kind of light therapy.

Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that help raise your energy level and have a more positive outlook.

Speak with your doctor about medication. If you’re still experiencing symptoms of SAD, a mental health professional may prescribe medication to help you get through the dark winter months.


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