It's So Sad

When Smokey Robinson sang, "Now they're some sad things known to man/But ain't too much sadder than/The tears of a clown when there's no one around."

Pretty sad stuff. The same can be said of SAD - seasonal affective disorder. It's a specific type of depression that's (almost always) linked to sun-stunted winter days. But because it's seasonal, a lot of you just accept the SADness and muddle through until April. That's a lot of unnecessary misery: Ten million Americans have full-blown SAD (about 10% of folks in New Hampshire and 1.4% in Florida). It affects women four times more often than men.

Why SAD? Less sunlight means your brain produces less of the feel-good hormone serotonin and more of the sleep hormone melatonin. The result? Grumpiness, lethargy, overeating comfort foods, disinterest in engaging in your life. The answer: more light.

Light therapy treatment has proven effective in reducing appetite and food cravings, as well as elevating mood and improving sleep patterns - and it's as effective as antidepressant meds.

The bright idea: Work with your doctor to get good-quality light therapy, using a light box that provides 10,000 Lux exposure and filters out most or all UV light. Every morning, position yourself in front of the box (don't stare) or put it off to the side. Sit 16 to 24 inches away. Open a book and read for 30 minutes. In addition, make an effort to exercise regularly and socialize. The combo should boost your mood!

© 2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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