The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

December 22, 2012

SAD season: There’s a name for depression that sets in for some in winter months


During the holidays, a lot of pressures can hit a person at one.

For some, the expectations that come with the holidays can be tough. Expectations to provide a good Christmas for kids, to cook a meal good enough to impress guests, to spend time with friends and family — it can get to be a lot, especially for people struggling with SAD or worse, clinical depression.

“People who have a history of depression will be worse, people who have moods more subject to change, they’ll be worse,” Stump said. “A person can get themselves in a position where they feel stuck.”

To combat SAD, or depression in general, Stump recommends starting with a family doctor or regular primary care physician. From there, if a doctor thinks you need additional help, she or he can refer you to a mental health professional.

In addition, Stump has some recommendations as well.

  • Get outside, even if it’s just for five or 10 minutes per day. Even if it’s cold, getting outside can have great impact on mood, Stump said.
  • Stay social. Even if it’s beyond your comfort level, doing things to engage other people can help. Accept other people’s invitations to attend holiday functions, and maybe even seek out company.
  • Step back from holiday expectations.
  • Do something nice for someone. You’d be surprised how good it can feel to spend a day volunteering at the local food shelf, committing a random act of kindness, or doing something special for someone who might be expecting it can feel.
  • Stabilize sleep patterns. Getting enough sleep can have a dramatic impact on mood.
  • Light box therapy. As more research is done, Stump said, light boxes are proving themselves to be quite useful in helping people beat down the negative effects of SAD.


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