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Shedding Light On SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

190593_4590It’s that time of year again…

Are you

Feeling grumpy, nervous, anxious moody?

Feeling drowsy and want to sleep more than usual?

Craving cake, cookies, pretzels, white-flour pasta and other “junky” carbs?

Gaining weight?

Feeling blah, or even outright sad and depressed?

You may have SAD or seasonal affective disorder.

Although not everyone agree that SAD exists, most therapists agree that low levels of light that occur from fall through winter can trigger or contribute to depression.

Fortunately, the treatment for SAD is fairly easy and effective.

Light Therapies

Sitting in front of a light box once a day for 30 minutes might be enough to lift your depression.  And more expensive models are not necessarily any better than cheaper ones. (Some are well under one hundred dollars).

A “light alarm clock” is another SAD therapy tool that can help with depression symptoms, especially getting up in the morning. Early in the morning, a light begins to shine at a low level, gradually growing brighter, until it’s time to wake up. Some light alarm clocks are only designed to wake you; other, usually more expensive versions are designed to both wake you and treat SAD.

If you don’t have SAD but feel sluggish and just a bit blah, replacing your regular light bulbs with very bright sunlight simulating bulbs (check to make sure your fixtures can handle them) may perk you up.

Other treatments for SAD include talk therapy, medication, exercise, and nutritional supplementation.

Remember, lack of light might exacerbate existing depression as well as other mood disorders. If this is your situation, discuss prevention and treatment with your doctor and/or therapist.


Shedding Light On SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2013). Shedding Light On SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2018, from


Last updated: 7 Nov 2013
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Nov 2013
Published on All rights reserved.