Seasonal Affective Disorder Jan 27, 2020

This time of the year in the Inland Northwest can be gray and moody because of the lack of natural light.

Did you know that 20% of the population experiences some seasonal fluctuation in sleep and mood, and up to 10% meet the criteria for Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD?

It is common to crave sunlight at this time of year, but how do you know if you suffer from SAD?


  • Weight gain
  • Drop in energy level
  • Reduction in quality of sleep
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Decreased concentration
  • Decreased creativity
  • Irritability
  • Inability to complete tasks

If these symptoms are accompanied by continual feelings of deep depression, worthlessness or recurring thoughts of death or harming oneself, please seek help right away. Our 24/7 Regional Crisis Line is 1.877.266.1818.

As with any mood disorder, treatment for SAD should be undertaken with the guidance of a qualified professional. Exposure to bright light, known as phototherapy, has been found to be an effective method of treating SAD, but individual sensitivity to light therapy varies. Medication is generally considered less effective. However, it is often used to supplement light therapy.

Other helpful strategies:

  • Increase the amount of available indoor light by adding windows, lamps and skylights.
  • Use bright colors in decorating.
  • Ask to be seated by windows in public spaces and take "window breaks" regularly at home and work.
  • Feelings of warmth (drinking hot tea, wrapping up in a blanket) have been reported to help.
  • Practice healthy diet and exercise habits.
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