Diagnosing and treating Seasonal Affective Disorder

PHOTO: Ali Stewart

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– It’s going to get darker earlier with the days getting shorter and shorter and that could cause a change in your mood. It’s not uncommon for people to start seeing a change in their mood right around this time of year. You have the time change — coupled with the fact it’s getting colder as winter gets closer.

All of this is known as “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” It affects tens of thousands of people here in Connecticut and you may be one of them.

Here are some of the symptoms:

    • Depressed mood
    • Change in energy or sleep
    • You may also eat more or less.
    • You may find yourself avoiding social settings.

News 8 spoke with Dr. Paul Desan, who’s the director of the Winter Depression Research Clinic at the Yale School of Medicine. He’s an expert in this field and says one of the easiest things people can do is expose themselves to light. Specifically by sitting in front of a light box everyday for 45 minutes — before 8 a.m. It affects the part of your brain that controls your body’s clock. In fact, light boxes are often used throughout parts of Europe.

“I would definitely encourage people who find that they are not who they are supposed to be in winter months to consider light treatment or seek help from a professional in the mental health to consider whether they have Seasonal Affective Disorder,” said Desan.

With the light box it may take a few weeks before you start seeing a change in your mood. Dr. Desan says for some people, medication may be necessary to get them through to April or May when Seasonal Affective Disorder starts to go away.

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