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How to Deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Don't put up with another winter of discontent. There are simple things you can do to lift yourself out of the doldrums.


  • Step 1: Know what SAD is Know what Seasonal Affective Disorder is. Called SAD for short, it's the depression some people feel during the winter, when there are fewer daylight hours. The cause is unknown, but it's suspected that lower levels of sunshine can affect some people's body clocks, hormones, and brain chemicals.
  • Step 2: Determine if you have SAD Determine if you suffer from the disorder. If you've been depressed at least two winters in a row; the depression subsides in the spring and returns in the winter; and there are no other explanations for your melancholy, you might have SAD. If your seasonal depression is severe, get evaluated by a doctor or mental health professional. You may need medication to deal with your SAD.
  • Step 3: Let in the light Get as much natural light as you can: Keep windows uncovered and get outside for at least 30 minutes daily during daylight hours – just make sure to wear sunscreen. Supplement this with light therapy: Sit in front of a light box designed to treat SAD for 30 minutes daily, first thing in the morning.
  • TIP: Check with a doctor before you buy a light box to make sure you choose the most effective one available for your budget.
  • Step 4: De-stress Reduce stress, which can make SAD worse. Getting 30 minutes of exercise per day, spending time with loved ones, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep can all help.
  • Step 5: Try negative air ionization Invest in a negative ion generator, which purifies indoor air. Researchers found that sitting in a room with the generator for 30 minutes a day reduced SAD symptoms. Make sure it's high-density; low-density ones are less effective.
  • Step 6: Get outta town If all else fails, jet off to a sunny spot for a week or two. Hey, it's your health we're talking about, right?
  • FACT: Some studies show SAD is diagnosed more often in women, but men seem to have more severe symptoms.

You Will Need

  • A doctor or mental health professional
  • Natural sunlight
  • A light box
  • Stress reducers
  • Negative air ionization
  • A sunny vacation spot
  • A dawn simulator (optional)

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