For some, the holiday seasons can be the most uplifting time of the year, but for others, winter has negative effects. Seasonal affective disorder affects millions of individuals, resulting in chronic anxiety or depression.
Megan Fellman begins every morning with a hot cup of liquid and a bright source of light.
“I just have it kind of at the side while I’m having my breakfast, reading the paper,” she said.
Fellman said she first started experiencing symptoms of serious depression more than 30 years ago, to the point she went to the hospital. Her physicians later recognized part of these symptoms were caused by her changing seasons.
“It was a surprise. I’d never heard of seasonal affective disorder,” she said.
Seasonal affective disorder: The light Therapy could help?
Dr. Dorothy Sit, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, states, “Our bodies, you know, really depend upon the sun, or sunlight, to regulate our circadian rhythms.”
Light therapy can be used to treat seasonal affective disorder and other cases of depression. Dr. Sit is researching the various ways in which this therapy can help.
“More recent studies have shown that it can be very helpful for treating non-seasonal major depression. It can be used on its own, or in combination with some antidepressant medicine,” she said.
According to a recent poll by the American Psychiatric Association, approximately 40 % of Americans say that their mood is more subdued in the wintertime, whereas 25 % report feeling depressed. A number of individuals with seasonal mood disorder experience lethargy or lack of energy, and they may not be able to perform their usual activities.
Fellman said treatment makes a big difference.
“It’s fair to say it’s almost life or death to me because I know where I have been without it in the winter,” she added.
Apart from light therapy, Fellman takes antidepressants year-round, with higher doses from October to April.
“Know that there are tools out there that can help people be happy, lead a normal life and not feel alone,” she said.
Fellman wants others to know the winter blues are real, but help is out there.
With information from CBS News