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When the Blues Last Beyond Winter

Although it is spring and the days are getting longer in the northern hemisphere, the lingering cold and harsh weather can limit your exposure to sunshine. People in areas with less sunshine may experience feelings of sadness, fatigue or hopelessness. A form of depression, called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), can affect people in low-light conditions.

Seasonal affective disorder occurs when fluctuating and decreasing levels of sunlight cause imbalances in your serotonin levels. The resulting depression can lead to difficulty getting out of bed in the morning or reduced interest in activities.

Making time for outdoor activities and regular exercise is a good first step. These activities can help reduce the negative effects of hormone imbalance and reduce depression. Additionally, light therapy and regular exposure to artificial light using specialized light boxes can help with the effects of low light exposure.

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder usually go away as the days get longer and you spend more time in natural sunlight. All the same, don’t hesitate to take action of your own if the dark days start to linger. If you  find that your depression remains after more days in the sun,  reach out to a health care provider. Lingering symptoms may mean you are experiencing a different type of depression. Your health care provider can help identify other forms of depression and work with you for proper treatment.

To learn more about depression or find a provider in your area, the DCoE Outreach Center is available 24/7, 365 days a year. Call 866-966-1020, email or live chat.

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This page was last updated on: September 14, 2017.