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 May 12, 2005
Health Tip: For Many, Winter is SAD Time
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(HealthDay News) -- Now that the holidays are long gone, many of us are experiencing cabin fever or the "winter blues."

But for people with a depressive condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), winter means much more than just the seasonal blahs.

An estimated 6 percent of Americans suffer from winter SAD, and another 10 percent to 20 percent may experience milder SAD symptoms. Winter's short days and long nights may induce feelings of depression, lethargy, fatigue, cravings for sweets and starches, headaches and sleep problems. The disorder usually begins when you're a young adult. It's also more common in women than in men.

What causes SAD is unclear, but it may have to do with the amount of sunlight you're exposed to. The following suggestions from the Mayo Clinic may help you better cope with this form of seasonal depression:

  • Increase the amount of light in your home. Open blinds, add skylights and trim tree branches that block sunlight.
  • Get outside. Walk outdoors on sunny days, even during winter.
  • Exercise regularly. Physical exercise helps relieve stress and anxiety, which can accentuate SAD. Being more fit can make you feel better about yourself.
  • Find ways to relax. Learn how to better manage stress.
  • Take a trip. If possible, take winter vacations in sunny, warm climates.

-- Nancyann Rella

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