HEALTH REPORT: Seasonal Affective Disorder

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Daylight Savings Time has come and gone, but some people may still be feeling some odd effects.
Rhiannon Walker explores Seasonal Affective Disorder in this week's Health Report.
Sunday the 5th marked the end of daylight savings time- and we all relished that extra hour we had. But a few people may be feeling a little under the weather as far as moods go.
According to Doctor Scott Bea, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic, as it starts to get darker sooner, it can impact the likelihood of developing Seasonal Affective Disorder, and where you live can make a difference.
Scott Bea; Psychologist Cleveland Clinic>>: "Of course we know the people in Florida aren't going to suffer quite as much; rate of seasonal affective disorder down there is about one point four percent; get up to New Hampshire, about nine point seven percent. So where you exist in relation to the equator makes a difference."
Doctor Bea says that Seasonal Affective Disorder is marked by feelings of sleepiness, withdrawal, and even irritability.
Research has shown that women tend to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder about four times as much as men do, but when men develop symptoms, they tend to be more severe.
In addition to longer periods of darkness, the grayness of winter impacts a lot of people too.
Doctor Bea says that about four percent of folks will experience Seasonal Affective Disorder during the winter, while another ten percent will get "winter blues".
He says that light therapy works for many people and suggests getting a light-therapy lamp and sitting in front of it for about thirty minutes every day, ideally in the morning.
Doctor Bea says if you start as early as October and keep it going through the spring, you will see the most benefit.
And, if nothing else, he says just getting yourself outdoors more often can help too.
Scott Bea; Psychologist Cleveland Clinic>>: "What people do is they stay indoors and so they don't get ordinary light exposure. One of the problems is we're not outside enough, even on a cloudy day, if you're outside for thirty minutes in the morning, you're going to get enough light exposure and that seems to make a difference."
Doctor Bea also recommends creating social obligations, such as meeting up with other people or taking up and exercise program as a way to keep up your mental health in the winter months.
For this week's Health Report, I'm Rhiannon Walker.