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Daily Newscasts

SAD? – You Are Not Alone

January 6, 2011

The holidays are behind us, but the days are still short and colder, with a lot less sunlight. These factors can have an adverse effect on the mental health of some Californians. It's called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and the National Mental Health Association estimates it affects 10 million Americans.

Jesse Bell, a clinician at Genesis Behavioral Health, says the symptoms can be debilitating for some.

"SAD causes sadness, lack of interest in activities that typically motivate people or cause enjoyment, lack of interest in social activities and, in general, lack of motivation."

The most important thing is to take care of yourself if you are prone to this type of depression, Bell says. Various treatments available include medications, talk and group therapy, and light therapies.

Bell urges people to notify their doctor about any symptoms they may be experiencing. They can include oversleeping, irritability, weight gain or a change in appetite, such as craving starchy foods.

SAD can also go hand-in-hand with other types of depression, Bell says.

"Someone who has regular depression can actually see a worsening of their depressive symptoms throughout the winter months, and someone who is not depressed at all may experience the depressive symptoms in amalgamation or in some form during those winter months."

According to the National Mental Health Association, three out of four SAD sufferers are women. The main age of onset of SAD is between 18 and 30.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA