Can I prevent seasonal affective disorder?

If you think you have symptoms of SAD, see your doctor for a thorough examination. Your doctor will want to make sure that these symptoms are not caused by another psychiatric condition or major medical illness.

If you have been diagnosed with SAD, here are some things you can do to help keep it from coming back:

  • Begin using a light box at the start of the fall season, even before you feel winter SAD coming on.
  • Try to spend some amount of time outside every day, even when it's very cloudy. The effects of daylight are still helpful.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and include sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals as recommended by the FDA. This will help you have more energy even though your body is craving starchy and sweet foods.
  • Try exercising for 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week.
  • Stay involved with your social circle and regular activities. This can be a tremendous means of support during winter months.
  • Consider consulting a mental health professional trained in cognitive behavior therapy, which has been demonstrated as an effective treatment for SAD.
  • Talk to your doctor about antidepressant medication if your symptoms are severe or continue even after treatments such as bright light therapy.

If your symptoms become severe and you or someone you know, are having thoughts of suicide, call your doctor right away or go to the nearest emergency room.

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