Intermountain Healthcare

Living with Seasonal Affective Disorder – There Is Help and Hope


Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/14/2021 --Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that affects millions of people every year nationally.

The main culprit is the lack of sunlight, as well as weather and temperatures creating an environment where people stay indoors. It is more common in women and young adults. Decreased sunlight can throw off circadian rhythms, decrease melatonin, and trigger decreases in serotonin production, said Denish Lash, MD, a psychologist and director of Intermountain Healthcare Behavioral Health for Mental Health Integration.

"People with seasonal affective disorder have typically experience a change in mood and/or sleep patterns that in the body," said Dr. Lash.

The symptoms can of seasonal affective disorder can include sad or anxious mood, loss of interest in activities irritable, restless, excessive fatigue, sleep issues, weight gain, headaches, upset stomach, and potential suicidal ideation.

Dr. Lash said it's important for individuals experiencing these issues to see their doctor. If anyone is having any suicidal thoughts or concerns, she strong encourages them to call the contact the Utah Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, 24 hours a day.

There are natural ways that can help ease the symptoms of SAD, according to Dr. Lash.

"To help counter the effects of seasonal affective disorder, vitamin D is your best friend. The sun can be your resource when trying to get vitamin D," said Dr. Lash. "Whenever possible, try to sneak some time outdoors. Even a walk around the neighborhood can be very helpful."

With the limited amounts of sunlight during the winter, experts say other methods that can help include light therapy boxes. Dr. Lash said to avoid UV lamps and look for light boxes that are 10,000 lux. "Turn them on for 20-30 minutes in the morning while you get ready for the day. This will give your body increased exposure to the light it is used to receiving during the warmer months."

Exercise is also a natural mood booster. "It will help releasing endorphins in your body, and also helps with combatting weight gain," said Dr. Lash.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. This can be that walking around the neighborhood three to five times a week. And outdoor exercise combines light exposure with physical activity.

Most important of all, says Dr. Lash, is to talk to someone. Reach out to family, friends or anyone to talk about how you feel. "You can reach out to your family provider or a therapist to get resources or call to get help."

"You are not alone in this and there is help," she said.

If you or someone you know needs immediate support, in Utah contact the Utah Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255, 24/7). Intermountain Healthcare also has an Emotional Health Relief Hotline if you just need someone to talk to or you need resources (1-833-442-2211, 10am-10pm, 7 days/week). Outside of Utah, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs.