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More than winter blues: Seasonal depression tips, insight from health experts

Hanh Truong, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in Health & Fitness

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As the fall season comes and gloomy weather rolls in, so do the feelings of sadness and fatigue for many. One Sacramento area clinical psychologist said she gets more calls — and an increase in reported depression symptoms — this time of year.

According to non-profit Mental Health America, seasonal depression usually occurs as the seasons change and typically begins in the fall and continues into the winter months.

About 5% of American adults experience seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder or S.A.D, and it usually lasts about 40% of the year, according to the American Psychiatric Association. .

"SAD is more than just 'winter blues.' The symptoms can be distressing and overwhelming and can interfere with daily functioning," the organization wrote. .

"Some of my clients have reported an increase in depression symptoms," said Dr. Shacunda Rodgers, a clinical psychologist in the Sacramento area. "There are other kinds of stressors, but I've noticed a trend in general that as fall and winter approach, I tend to get more calls versus in the spring and summer."

S.A.D. can occur in the summertime too, however at a lower percentage. According to a Time report, around 1% of the U.S. population experiences seasonal depression in the summer.

 

What causes seasonal affective disorder?

Specific causes of seasonal depression haven't been pinpointed yet, according to Mayo Clinic.

But with daylight saving time ending in early November, the change in the amount of sunlight during the day is a potential factor.

"This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body's internal clock and lead to feelings of depression," it said on its website.

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