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Winter Blues: Seasonal depression usually hits in winter months

12/11/2013

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – While snow on the ground might be a “Winter Wonderland” for some, for others it brings on a case of the “winter blues” that you just can’t seem to shake.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression affecting people starting in the fall and going through winter, according to Candace Rutherford, licensed clinical social worker with Summit Behavioral Health, an affiliate of Summit Health.

While the cause of SAD is unknown, several physical factors, such as genetics, age, and chemical make-up, as well as environmental factors like reduced sunlight may increase the likelihood of symptoms developing.

“The most important thing is knowing your body and yourself,” Rutherford said. “If you’re able to distinguish whether this is an isolated bad day or an ongoing, persistent problem, then you can get help to lessen the effects of SAD.”

Symptoms include appetite changes, anxiety, decreased social interaction, depression, difficulty concentrating, heavy feeling in arms or legs, loss of energy, oversleeping, and weight gain.

Depending on the situation, treatment for SAD can include light therapy, medications, or psychotherapy. In some cases, regular exercise and increased sunlight exposure maybe be all that is needed.

For more information, visit SummitHealth.org/behavioralhealth or call (717) 267-7771 for inpatient services and (717) 267-7480 for outpatient services.

In a time of crisis, call the Crisis Services at (717) 264-2555 or 1-866-918-2555, or go to the nearest emergency room.

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Summit Health is a non-profit network of hospitals and physician practices dedicated to building a healthier community. As Franklin County's leading healthcare provider, Summit Health offers family care, specialists, lab and imaging services, a fitness center, two walk-in care centers, and two award-winning hospitals. More information is available at www.SummitHealth.org and www.facebook.com/SummitHealth.

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