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The Science of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

sad woman

Story at-a-glance -

  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is linked to the lower sunlight exposure that typically occurs in winter months; for instance, SAD affects only 1 percent of Floridians compared to 9 percent of Alaskans
  • People with SAD may overproduce melatonin, such that the increased darkness that comes along with winter leads to feelings of sleepiness and lethargy, or melatonin production may be phase-delayed, which means it’s produced at the wrong time
  • Full-spectrum light therapy (or sunlight exposure), Emotional Freedom Techniques, exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy are among the most effective SAD treatments

By Dr. Mercola

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs seasonally, typically ramping up in the fall and winter months and disappearing come spring (although it may occur during other seasons as well, albeit less often). It’s quite common for people to notice changes in their mood, energy levels and food cravings when the weather turns colder and the days get shorter, but this slump, known as “winter blues,” is different from true SAD.


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