Do I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

“Every year when they turn the clocks back, I start to get tired and I lose interest in doing the things I usually like.  By January, I get so tired that I don’t want to do anything but sleep.  Getting up in the morning is getting  harder and harder. I barely drag myself into work and frequently I’m late.  As I get more tired, everything feels like a burden, I start eating sweets and anything that tastes good no how bad it is for me.  I get very cranky about everything...  I don’t even want to see my friends.  I start to think, maybe I’m depressed but then I feel fine as soon as spring gets here.”

If this sounds like you that every fall around the time we turn the clocks back and it doesn't get better until the sun starts to shine in spring and summer, then you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.   SAD is most common in the north where the days get shorter and the sun less bright.  People living in the south do not experience the winter Seasonal Affective Disorder.  This is a biochemical response to less sunlight so don’t think there is something wrong with you, but you do need to do something about it.

The first thing you can do is “let the sun shine in”.  Make sure there is a part of your home that is sunny.  For most people with SAD a sunny spot in the house is only helpful on sunny days and in the Midwest, we can have many cloudy days.  Having a 10,000 lux sunbox 12 inches from your face for 40 minutes in the morning can help you more easily get out of bed. After a few days of using the sun lamp, you will find yourself having more energy and being less negative, even more interested in the activities you always enjoyed. Visit for a listing of places to purchase a 10,000 lux sunbox on the internet.  I you are not sure about purchasing a sunbox, you can contact the Employee Assistance Program and try our sunbox for 1 week.

Your biochemistry is also influenced by exercise.  Thirty minutes of brisk walking, riding a bike, walking on a treadmill, swimming, climbing stairs will change your biochemistry, which increases your energy and leaves you with a happier mood.  On campus you can join the FIT program or Recreation Services for a limited adult membership to make sure you get more indoor exercise into your winter anti-SAD program.


For more information on this and other topics, please visit the WebMD website at
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