Section: Barnabas Health Behavioral Health News

Seasonal Affective Disorder – Escaping the Winter Blues


TOMS RIVER, NJ – Changes in weather can often affect people’s moods. Sunny days can lift our spirits, while dull, rainy days may can make us feel a little gloomy. For some, it can be hard to shake off the winter blues – those individuals may be suffering from a psychological condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a form of major depressive disorder (MDD) that normally occurs in winter months, when there is less natural light.

In an effort to fight these melancholy feelings, Mary Jane Maser, PhD, APRN, BC, Clinical Director of Stepping Stones Intensive Outpatient Program at Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Center will host a presentation on SAD on Wednesday, January 20 at 2 p.m. at Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Center, located at 1691 U.S. Highway 9 in Toms River. Dr. Maser will review signs and symptoms, causes, prevention and treatment of SAD.

SAD is more common the farther north you live. The only distinction between MDD and SAD is the timing of the episodes, which occur during the short, dark days of winter in patients with SAD. Millions of Americans suffer from SAD. Symptoms are characterized by feelings of sadness, loneliness, altered sleeping and eating patterns, negative thoughts and feelings of guilt, lethargy and disturbed sleep patterns; overeating and developing a craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods; difficulty with concentration and memory; and social problems such as finding it difficult to be around others.

The condition is more common in women than in men, and illness typically begins around age 20. Some people experience symptoms severe enough to affect quality of life, and a small percentage require hospitalization. Many people with SAD report at least one close relative with a psychiatric disorder, most frequently a severe depressive disorder or alcohol abuse.

“Although SAD can have a devastating effect on a person’s life, many people with SAD can be helped with available treatments including light therapy, psychotherapy and medications,” said Dr. Maser. “If you or someone you know is experiencing the signs of SAD, it’s important to seek the help of a professional for a potential diagnosis and treatment plan.”

Once the diagnosis SAD is made, treatment options include bright light therapy, an effective method that uses a light box to increase the amount of light during certain times of the day. Other options may include medications or cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves relearning how to react to certain situations and being aware of personal triggers. To help those who struggle with depression during the course of the year, Dr. Maser suggests keeping the house well-lit and going outside to get as much light as possible as well as outdoor activity, eating a well-balanced diet, especially during the winter months.

For more information or to register for this free program, call 800-300-0628.

About Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Center
The Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Center offers an extensive array of high-quality, clinically-focused programs. These programs include a 100-bed acute care psychiatric facility which provides inpatient and intensive outpatient programs for adults and older adults diagnosed with psychiatric and dual disorders. At the Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Center, the multidisciplinary staff includes experienced professionals in nearly every facet of behavioral health care. This allows the provision of truly customized and highly specialized treatment tracks, as well as programs for the dually diagnosed.

For an appointment or to make a referral to any of the programs or services, call 800.300.0628.

Categories: Behavioral Health,Press Releases