Gloomy weather can bring seasonal affective disorder to some

Dr. John Beyer

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Gray skies can leave us all feeling kind of blue, but for some that feeling develops into depression.

Seasonal affective disorder is sparked by the change in seasons, most commonly the beginning of fall.

Dr. John Beyer with Duke Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences said the clinic sees multiple people a week who suffer from some form of SAD.

He said you may not know it, but odds are you’ve probably had some of the symptoms too.

“Low energy, low interest, difficulty getting started on things. Many of us have symptoms of SAD that we experience, although it’s not to the extent that we would call it a real disorder or a true depression,” said Beyer.

SAD can be caused by a change in serotonin or melatonin levels or something as simple as shorter days and less sun.

“It’s possible that may be related to our circadian rhythms, the rhythms inside our body that kind of tell us when we’re hungry or when it’s time to sleep or what time to wake up,” said Beyer.

Eleven million Americans experience SAD, according to Duke.

Those who live in less sunny regions experience it at a higher rate.

It goes to show the old tune “You are my sunshine,” actually has a lot of truth in its lyrics.

The sun can make you happier.

So, follow doctor’s orders this fall and soak it up as much as you can.

“Even on cloudy days like this you can get treatment for seasonal sluggishness,” said Beyer.

SAD can be treated with medication, but the most common treatment is light therapy.

Phototherapy gives patients doses of light exposure similar to what you would receive outside on a sunny day.

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