When the cold days get shorter and exposure to sunlight is limited, it’s hard not to let the weather affect your mood. The lack of sunlight and the higher than usual numbers of rainy days we have had during the last few months could leave you feeling depressed and lethargic. Some people may experience what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a depressive disorder that is associated with the fall and winter seasons.

According to Everyday Health, about 20 percent of adults suffer from a mild form of SAD. The symptoms include lethargy, hypersomnia, overeating, weight gain, anxiety, mood changes or social withdrawal. If symptoms are left untreated, SAD could disrupt daily routines such as getting out of bed in the morning, going to work or taking care of children at home.

Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center’s psychiatrist Bindu Koshy, MD, says it’s important to recognize SAD symptoms and learn to manage symptoms before they become more severe and have a long-term impact on your life.

SAD is usually treated with light therapy, whether it’s daily exposure to natural sunlight by engaging in outdoor activities or artificial sunlight from a lightbox.  

“People suffering from SAD should get 20 to 60 minutes of sunlight each day,” said Dr. Koshy.

Dr. Koshy’s tips to help prevent and manage SAD:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Practice stress management techniques such as mindful meditation, yoga
  • Participate in activities you enjoy
  • Try to get out and socialize even when you don’t feel up to it

Knowing these helpful tips and techniques for managing your SAD symptoms will be beneficial to your overall health and mental well-being.

If you are struggling with feelings of prolonged anxiety, hopelessness and sadness, take our free online screening tool to see if you are at risk for depression.