27 OctUsing CBT and Other Methods to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) by Dr. Konstantin Lukin September, October, Novem… where did the year go? As the summer months pass, days grow shorter, daylight becomes scarce, and we’re less active. Instead of going for our morning jog we’re spending more time in front of our TV and hiding under our covers to stay warm. This change in the weather and our activity can start to take its toll on our minds and bodies. Called the Winter Blues, Seasonal Depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, this phenomenon is backed by a substantial and growing basis in scientfic research and affects millions of Americans each year. But with the right treatment approach, even someone who is consistently bogged down by this disorder can overcome it. Why am I SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or Seasonal Depression, is a mood disorder characterized by depression related to changes in seasons. It begins in the fall and continues through winter every year. It’s also quite common. There are more than 3 million cases in the U.S. alone per year. If you’ve recently been experiencing one or more of the symptoms below, you may have Seasonal Depression and might want to contact a physician for guidance. Does this sound familiar? If you’re waking up tired every day, you may have seasonal depression. Symptoms Mood Changes: Feeling a sudden surge of irritability, downess or even happiness throughout the day Anxiety: You’re constantly tense and unable to react calmly to normal situations Overeating: You’re craving more and more starchy foods and sweets Sleep problems: You have a strong desire to oversleep or a new case of early morning waking from disturbed sleep patterns Lethargy: You are feeling extreme fatigue and exhibiting a general lack of desire or inability to carry out your normal routine How does Seasonal Depression differ from regular Depression? Seasonal Depression occurs in individuals who have a normal mental health throughout most of the year and only feel the effects of the depression in the winter. Treatment Seasonal Depression is treatable and should be treated as any other illness. Contact your health care provider about choosing the right treatment for you. Light therapy devices have been shown to help. Treatments for SAD include: Light Therapy (Phototherapy)Light therapy involves increasing your daily exposure to direct sunlight or using artificial lights. Your doctor can recommend a light box for you to purchase. Counseling and Cognitive Behavioral TherapyVoicing your emotions about your depression can help with healing process on its own. Don’t be afraid to talk to friends and family about how you’re feeling. The more they know, the more they can help. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing your depression with others, consider seeking confidential professional help. Talking with a psychologist or psychiatrist who speacializes with Cognitive Behavioral therapy will ensure that you’re in the right hands to tackle your seasonal depression head on. MedicationsTreatment through medication should be discussed with your physician as it’s not right for everyone. Medications are not the only treatment available and should not be abused. PreventionPrevent seasonal depression by maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout the year. This includes healthy diet, workout regimen and daily exposure to sunlight. Here at the Lukin Center for Psychotherapy, we use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help treat a variety of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, and more. If you’re in Northern New Jersey, you can schedule an appointment with one of our licensed psychologists. We offer free evaluations, flexible scheduling, and a variety of payment options.