Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also called winter blues, seasonal depression, or seasonal mood disorder, is a medical condition characterized by normal mental health throughout most of the year, but depressive symptoms in the winter. As many as half a million people in the United States may have winter depression. Another 10% to 20% may experience mild SAD, usually called winter blues. Women are affected to a larger degree than men. Symptoms of milder winter blues include a lack of energy, depression, listlessness, and food cravings for sweets and carbohydrates. By contrast, cases of the more debilitating Seasonal Affective Disorder may include additional symptoms: Problems sleeping, change in appetite or weight, loss of memory, lack of concentration, severe depression and confusion.
Use of a light therapy lamp (such as the Verilux HappyLight) for 15-30 minutes each day is a simple, effective and drug-free treatment for SAD. In fact, studies show that you will know after the first hour if light therapy will work for you. Most SAD sufferers who used light therapy also found they did not need anti-depressants.