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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is often misunderstood to be the "winter blues" because individuals with SAD will experience depressive symptoms such as lack of interest and energy in the fall and winter months but these will go away during the spring or summer. Although it is uncommon, there are individuals with SAD who experience symptoms in the spring and summer but they go away in the fall and winter. The specific cause of SAD is unknown but researchers have speculated that the changing seasons and lighting conditions may impact serotonin and melatonin levels as well as an individuals' biological clock which act as contributing factors of SAD. Common treatments include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy or medications.
It can be easy to dismiss that gloomy mood at the onset of winter as just another mood swing. But, accepting and recognizing SAD in its' initial stages can allow for effective treatment. The following tips to navigate SAD should not be taken as a substitute for professional treatment, but rather can be used in conjunction with the services provided by a healthcare professional.