Can I prevent seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

You may not be able to prevent the first episode of SAD. But once your provider has diagnosed you with seasonal depression, you can take steps to help keep it from coming back:

  • Use your light box: Start using light therapy at the beginning of fall, before you feel SAD symptoms.
  • Get out: Spend time outside every day, even if it’s cloudy. Daylight can help you feel better.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet: Even though your body may crave starchy and sweet foods, stick to nutritious choices. A healthy diet with enough vitamins and minerals can give you the energy you need.
  • Exercise: Try to get 30 minutes of exercise, three times a week.
  • See friends: Stay involved with your social circle and regular activities. They can provide support during the winter months.
  • Find help: Consider seeing a mental health professional who’s trained in CBT. This treatment can be very effective for seasonal affective disorder.
  • Consider medications: Talk to your healthcare provider about taking an antidepressant. Medications can help if your symptoms are severe or if they continue after other treatments. In some cases, taking the medication before SAD begins can prevent episodes.

Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if starting treatment early, as a preventive measure, is right for you.

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