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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Street view of Denver in winterSeasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD or seasonal depression, is a condition that affects millions of people. It is more common during the winter months when the days are shorter, hence its name. The symptoms tend to wane once spring sets in.

People who suffer from seasonal affective disorder often have a hard time going about their daily activities and working on their relationships during the period in which they suffer from SAD.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder may include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Sleeping too much
  • Depressed mood
  • Low energy
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Hopelessness

Therapies and strategies for coping with SAD:


Phototherapy is a light therapy in which a patient suffering from SAD is exposed to a source that mimics natural light. Usually, a light box generating 10,000 lux of white or blue light is used for a prescribed amount of time, typically 30 minutes. A regular desk lamp or a yellow light should not be used for this purpose.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Research indicates that a relatively short period of cognitive behavior therapy is often effective for SAD and has the additional benefit of having an active, caring therapist onboard who can assess and treat this and additional concerns. You can easily schedule an appointment with one of our cognitive behavioral therapists in Denver and nearby areas.

depressed woman hiking in snowNutrition

A lack of Vitamin D that arises as a result of the lack of exposure to sunlight may play a role in SAD. If needed, use Vitamin D supplements, especially D3. It isn’t always easy to get vitamin D within acceptable ranges, and blood testing is oftentimes a good idea to ensure that the dosage is adequate.


Try to get as much sun exposure as possible during the winter. Take frequent, relaxing walks and soak up as much sun as you can.