Do you have the right light for alleviating your winter blues?

Millions of Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) -- 11 million Americans suffer from a severe form of winter depression.Experts say roughly 60 percent of people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder do not get treated.

Dr. Wilbur Dattilo, is a psychiatrist and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah. He sees his fair share of people whose depression gets worse in the winter.

"I'd say on average, we see more people in the winter months. People in Utah suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, because the winters are long and people don't get out in the winters and the light is less."

Dr. Dattilo says signs of depression which can intensify during the winter include:

  • sleeping less or more
  • loss of interest
  • unrealistic thoughts of guilt
  • decreased energy or sedentary
  • poor concentration
  • change in appetite and craving more carbs in the winter
  • suicidal thoughts

Doctors recommend getting out as much as possible, even when it's cloudy.  Exercise.  Maintain your sleep routine which means going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday.

Dr. Dattilo says he'll recommend medication in some cases and he strongly suggests using light therapy.
He says, make sure the light has 10,000 LUX.

"As white as possible and as bright as you need it to be. It should be used in the morning, not at night, and as early as when you wake about 30-60 minutes."

Dr. Dattilo used light therapy on his children when the family moved from North Carolina to Utah.   
"It helps us get through the winters in Utah and feel happier and better."

The seasonal affective disorder lamps can cost anywhere from $50 to $100. While 11 million suffer from SAD, some 25 million may suffer from a mild form of the winter blues. But, just think, the calendar says spring is 3 weeks away.

Women are more at risk than men for suffering from winter depression, so are younger adults and having a family history of depression.

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