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Seasonal affective disorder could be worse amid pandemic | Health Beat with Brea Love

Seasonal affective disorder impacts 5% of adults in the U.S. ABC10 health expert explains how to manage it while still dealing with the COVID pandemic.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD as it's commonly known, impacts 5% of adults in the U.S. 

Its a condition ABC10 Health Expert Dr. Tom Hopkins said SAD is underdiagnosed and the pandemic has made it worse for people because people were already dealing with depression due to changes to their life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SAD typically starts up in the fall and runs through winter. A person's mood could be impacted with less sunlight, colder weather and more time spent indoors. Dr. Hopkins said this should first be treated with phototherapy or more sunlight. Exercise, a good sleep routine, talking with a therapist or even getting on medication can help.

"If it's affecting your quality of life, you need to speak to your doctor and come up with a game plan because even with seasonal affective disorder, medication therapy is often useful because what we know is, tied with this seasonal affective disorder, the neuro chemicals in your brain, one specifically the neurochemical serotonin, starts to drop down," Dr. Hopkins said. "So, what becomes very useful is using an agent, an antidepressant agent that is. When you take it, it elevates the serotonin levels and therefore treats the depression."


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