Antidepressant medications can help treat SAD. The antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin) is approved for the treatment of SAD. But in a situation like yours, where you’re already taking an antidepressant, another treatment option is light box therapy.
For people with SAD, sitting in front of a light box is most helpful during the early morning hours because it simulates the sunrise. Typically people sit several feet from the illuminated box for about 30 minutes while they eat breakfast, read or watch television.
Some lifestyle changes may help, too. For example, get in the habit of going outside on sunny days. In the winter when snow is on the ground, clear days can be brilliantly bright. Exposure to that natural sunlight can help relieve SAD symptoms, as can regular exercise, healthy sleep habits and a balanced, healthy diet.
For some people, talking with a therapist may be helpful for combating symptoms of both SAD and non-seasonal depression.
Treatment for SAD often is most effective if you start it before the days begin to grow shorter in the fall. In most cases, consistent light therapy and, when needed, antidepressant medication, can prevent symptoms of SAD during the winter months. Talk to your doctor to see if treatment for SAD may help you. — R. Robert Auger, M.D., Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.