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Healthwise: Seasonal Depression

November 9, 2011

Colorful leaves falling to the ground and fewer hours of sunlight are two signs that seasons are changing. However, with that comes seasonal depression.

"Seasonal depression is a subset of depression it is also known as seasonal defective disorder or sad for short," explained Dr. David Mahoney, of the Charlottesville Wellness Center.

Doctor David Mahoney says physicians typically start to treat patients for the condition during the fall.

"I think the main thing is shorter days most of us now are waking up before the sun comes up and going home after the sun goes down," said Mahoney.

Seasonal depression often continues through the winter, during the snow, sleet and ice. It can get worse throughout the holidays.

"The stress of the holidays certainly can contribute or outright cause some depression," said Mahoney. You do not have to wait until the spring to get rid of seasonal depression, doctors often prescribe medications like Zoloft, Prozac and Wellbutrin.

Or, you can try a unique treatment called Phototherapy, the light box helps patients receive more light when there is not any outside.

"This isn't just a light you sit next to you bed, it is more of a therapeutic light box that you spend certain amounts of time with each day," said Mahoney.

It can help you get the exposure to the light you need, and help cure your depression so you can get back outside and enjoy the rest of the season.

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