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Feeling S.A.D.? Lighten up if it’s seasonal affective disorder

January 26, 2011
  • By Ann MacDonald, Contributor

About the Author

photo of Ann MacDonald

Ann MacDonald, Contributor

Ann MacDonald was the editor of the Harvard Mental Health Letter from October 2007 to January 2012. She has also written several editions of the Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Disease. Before working at … See Full Bio
View all posts by Ann MacDonald


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December 14, 2011

I worked as a ski patroller for many years and was outside all days and in all weather. I retired a few years ago and basically became a poster child for SAD depression, weight gain, etc In the summer when I am outside all day the symptoms go away.

Tried a light box, but it didn’t do much good. My best cure has been a puppy. Puppy needs to get walked every day, regardless of how I feel. Of course a dog lifts your spirits just by being a dog, but for me part of it is getting out of doors and into the fresh air every day without fail.

August 15, 2011

I think there is some truth to this. Summer always seem happier and you wear colorful dresses. But during winter I tend to wear browns and blacks and wish spring would hurry along!

June 21, 2011

Is there a reverse? I love the Summer months and can’t wait till they get here. I know many people that are the reverse – can’t wait to see the snow and go skiing. Me – if I never went outside in the Winter I would be happy. I live in upstate NY so we can get some pretty brutal winters.

Kelly Morris
February 10, 2011

The snow makes everyone happy. As long as you have warm clothes lol. I like the blog.

[URL removed by a moderator.]

January 26, 2011

Exercise also helps. Living on the West Coast for years and then moving to the Northeast again brought on my SAD during the winter. The cold weather makes is difficult to really enjoy being out in the sun.

Ann MacDonald
January 26, 2011

Good point! Regular physical activity helps boost mood and is often recommended for people with mild to moderate depression (including SAD). And there are physical benefits as well! Thanks for writing.

Online Health Guy
January 26, 2011

Does SAD varies from country to country. For example in a country spring is responsible for SAD and in another winter is responsible?

Ann MacDonald
January 26, 2011

Interesting question! An article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and posted on the Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms website, reports that SAD is more common in people living in the northern latitudes, such as the United States, Canada, and countries in the northern part of Europe. And while most people who develop SAD do so in the winter months, some also have a “summer” version that is not well understood. You can read more in the JAMA article. Thanks for writing.

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