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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Eskenazi Health Encourages You to Take Seasonal Affective Disorder Seriously

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December can be a gloomy time, with the days short and Indiana weather a notoriously erratic blend of rain, snow, ice and warm spells. While some people can cheer their spirits with cocoa and an old-fashioned snowball fight, many others suffer from winter blues.

If your winter blues are severe, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of conditional depression that repeats each year and affects 5% of the population. While SAD can occur during other seasons, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that winter-pattern SAD is the most widespread, a condition that typically begins in late fall.

Common SAD symptoms include feelings of sadness, guilt or lethargy; reduced concentration and interest in activities; and issues with energy or overeating. Symptoms for winter SAD, according to NIMH, also include isolating oneself, craving carbs and becoming overtired during the day or oversleeping at night.

Possible reasons for winter SAD include chemical alterations in the brain due to loss of sunlight, overproduction of melatonin or changes to the biological clock. Eskenazi Health encourages you to act if SAD hits, especially since the condition may intensify as the winter progresses. Simply exposing yourself to more sun and healthier habits, such as exercise and a healthier diet, may make you feel better. If you’re a patient at Eskenazi Health, you can take advantage of the Healthy Me program.

Patients can join a walking group, take cooking classes, meet with a personal wellness coach or get a free membership at George Washington High School Gym. But if behavioral changes aren’t improving your condition, consider popular SAD treatments, which include medication, psychotherapy and light therapy, in which a patient spends a brief daily period exposed to a light box that mimics sunlight.

You shouldn’t spend four to five months of the year unhappy; reach out to the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center access line to set up an appointment if you need help with SAD at 317.880.8491. SAD is on a continuum, from those experiencing minor mental and behavioral changes to those having difficulty getting through the day. It can also be confused with other mental health disorders.

Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center can help you assess your condition, but if you need immediate assistance, don’t hesitate to contact the 988 Lifeline (just dial those three digits) or the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center emergency line at 317.880.8485.

Broderick Rhyant, M.D., chief physician executive with Eskenazi Health Center Forest Manor. For more news on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) courtesy of the Indianapolis Recorder, click here.

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