Shorter days, less sunlight can lead to depression. Here’s how to fight it.

Posted at 5:50 AM, Nov 07, 2019

With the end of Daylight Saving Time comes an extra hour of sleep and, sometimes, a bout with depression.

The Mayo Clinic defines seasonal depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as depression that's linked to the change of seasons, usually fall and winter.

According to research, the exact causes are unknown, but it's believed the lack of sunlight can not only lead to a drop in mood-affecting brain chemicals, but also negatively impact the body's biological clock.

Someone with seasonal depression might feel a lack of energy, lost interest in activities and a feeling of depression most of the day.

Dr. Rick Ellis, a psychologist with Spectrum Psychological Services in Virginia Beach, says when looking for relief, don't underestimate the importance of exercise.

“Find opportunities to get up early now. It’s lighter early and you can get out and do something, take a little walk. Even if it’s a ten-minute walk or a five-minute walk," he said.

Light therapy with a sun lamp is also an option, Dr. Ellis says. A sun lamp mimics the light from the sun and you can find them online for around $30-35.

If the problem continues, it's never a bad idea to see a therapist.

“Just check it out. You don’t have to continue forever and get on a couch and bare your soul. You can just talk to someone, ‘here’s what I’m experiencing. What do you think about this?’ Maybe find some recommendations for the person to do outside of the office," said Dr. Ellis.

SAD is considered to be different than the holiday blues, which is a feeling of sadness around the holidays. Psychology Today says the holiday blues are often triggered by something specific, like financial troubles, strained family relationships, even unreached goals.

Dr. Ellis says if someone is struggling with the holiday blues after the holiday season, it might be time to talk with a professional.