Some people experience a serious mood change during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight.

This condition is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

SAD is a type of depression.

Here are the symptoms of SAD:

  • Sad, anxious or empty feelings.
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism.
  • Irritability or restlessness.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you would normally enjoy.
  • Fatigue and decreased energy.
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Changes in weight.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

SAD is a serious condition – a subtype of major depressive disorder in which life can be severely compromised.

Far more of us experience similar but less intense symptoms, becoming just short of clinically depressed.

What can you do to prevent being SAD?

  • Stop hitting the snooze button. Keep the same sleep hours on weekdays and weekends.
  • Eat at the same time every day and no later than 8:00 PM for dinner. Our biological clocks respond to meal timing and consistency is king.
  • Schedule some outside time in outdoor light. Nothing beats real sunlight to help cure the winter doldrums.
  • Exercise daily and try to avoid late day workouts.
  • “Let there be light” and use a light-therapy box 30 minutes before work.

Light therapy probably won’t cure seasonal affective disorder, depression or other conditions. But it may ease symptoms, increase your energy levels and help you feel better about yourself and life.

Light therapy can start to improve symptoms within just a few days. In some cases, though, it can take two or more weeks.

If you are still feeling blue despite actively trying to lighten your days, check in with your Doctor as you may have clinically significant depression.