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Got winter blues? A doctor explains seasonal affective disorder

Treating seasonal affective disorder

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More than 10 million Americans grapple with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression that affects four to six out of every 100 individuals, according to the National Institute of Health.

For those of us in the Midwest, the impact of SAD hits hardest during the gloomy winter months.

Dr. Shelley Doumani-Semino, senior medical director of behavioral health at CVS/Aetna, breaks down SAD as a kind of “winter blues.”

She describes it as a mild to moderate depressive feeling that peaks during the cold months, messing with our mood, concentration, sleep, socializing, and even appetite.

Dr. Doumani-Semino says if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it’s crucial to seek help.

“If the symptoms are making you feel like life isn’t worth living, it’s really important that you get some help from a mental health professional.”

Beyond professional help, Dr. Doumani-Semino encourages taking a personal inventory to figure out what might be contributing to feelings of depression. She also highlighted the importance of self-care.

Doumani-Semino says exercise, getting enough sleep, and keeping a check on alcohol consumption are simple but effective ways to take care of our mental well-being.

“When it comes to exercise, start with a couple of days a week, maybe five to 10 minutes at a time. It’s easier to build on something when you establish that routine than to try to take on a routine that’s too difficult,” Dr. Doumani-Semino said.