MINNEAPOLIS — Fall is officially here, and for many of us, that means getting ready to deal with seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that happens when the seasons change. Symptoms usually start in the fall and continue into the winter months.
Experts say if you have difficulty falling asleep or waking up, appetite changes, or weight gain, those could be related to seasonal affective disorder.
Dr. Michael Howell, a neurology professor at the University of Minnesota, says the best way to combat SAD is to get as much bright light as possible.
He says if natural sunlight isn't an option, get a 10,000 lux light box and start using it first thing in the morning.
"Think about it. We should have a sunrise that lets our whole system, mind, mood, and spirit know it's time to start the day," said Howell. "So, if you can get that light in the first 60 minutes, that would be great."
Howell says very few people are diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder. But in Minnesota, 5-10% of people have symptoms.
The University of Minnesota is one college in the state providing SAD lights to students.
Students can check a lamp out at the library or reserve a library space that has a SAD light in it. Reservable spaces are at the Magrath Library and Walter Library. Library staff says many students have taken advantage of checking the lamps out.
"We were looking for a way to support students' mental health, and SAD lamps seemed like an easy way to make something accessible for students, in conjunction with them working with a medical provider to support student wellness and well-being," said Kristen Mastel, outreach and instruction librarian at the University of Minnesota.
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