Seasonal Depression

The winter blues, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or seasonal depression, is a condition in which people who don`t normally suffer from depression experience symptoms during the winter.

(Dr. Daisy VanValkenburg, St. Alexius Psychiatrist):  "Some people kind of shut down in the winter time, they tend to sleep more, they tend to eat too much, and be a lot less active."

(Tieu):  Seasonal depression is thought to be caused by the lack of natural daylight during the winter.

(Dr. VanValkenburg):  "[It] is something that afflicts a lot of North Dakotans. We have a lot of difference in sunlight that we have in the summer time and in the winter time."

(Tieu):  The state gets an average of eight and a half hours of sunlight a day during the winter. That`s almost 16 hours spent in the dark each day. It causes melatonin to increase in your brain, and too much can make you lethargic. If you think you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, you can use light therapy to treat it. Light therapy can boost serotonin levels and lift your mood. Doctors recommend getting at least 15 minutes of exposure to bright light each day. For more severe cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder, doctors can also prescribe medication.

KFYR-TV
Van Tieu, Reporting