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Woman uses light therapy for seasonal affective disorder

Shedding Some Light on Seasonal Affective Disorder


Midwest winters are no joke. Temperatures plummet, snow accumulates everywhere and days are shorter. While others might shy away from such harsh conditions, we Midwesterners brave the cold months with a sense of pride. But, this doesn’t mean we’re immune to the effects of winter from a behavioral health standpoint.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that generally sets in during fall and lasts throughout the winter primarily due to longer periods spent indoors and a lack of sunlight. While spring and summer often relieve the symptoms of SAD, we’re here to tell you there are ways to conquer SAD even in the midst of a Midwestern winter.

Identifying SAD

A common misconception is that SAD is its own disorder. It’s actually a version of depression closely tied to a season rather than other factors. Signs of SAD include –

  • Low energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Loss of interest
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Social withdrawal

Show SAD who’s boss

Now that we have a better understanding of SAD, it’s time to get down to business and learn how to get the better of SAD.

  • SAD lights. Typically, 20-60 minutes every morning in front of a white florescent light box does the trick and is much more effective than regular indoor lighting.
  • Quartz Behavioral Health. Sometimes we need support to help us get back on track, and Quartz is here to help. Visit QuartzBenefits.com/healthmanagement for more information on our Behavioral Health department.
  • Plan a fun indoor activity. Create slime from scratch. Bake some goodies. Have a dance party. Build a pillow fort. The list goes on, but changing up your routine could bring some joy to being indoors during the winter.
  • Exercise indoors with MobileBack. Our app-based program helps you strengthen you back. With 85 percent of users recommending MobileBack to friends, why wouldn’t you check it out. Visit QuartzBenefits.com/mobileback for more information. You can even track your workout s with Quartz well to earn points.
Source: National Institute of Mental Health, “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Accessed at nimh.mih.gov on November 11, 2019. 

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