Concerning Women

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other staff.


What is Seasonal Affective Disorder and what helps it? Can diet and exercise help?


Seasonal Affective Disorder, sometimes called SAD, is a mood disorder that occurs with a seasonal pattern. Usually the pattern is of depressed mood that begins in fall or winter and gets better in the springtime. It is usually treated with a combination of psychotherapy, full spectrum light and anti-depressants.

Exercise and diet may help, as they do in other mood disorders, but someone who notices severe mood decline during the darker months of the year should seek professional help.

What causes SAD? Unfortunately the cause of this kind of depression is unknown. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that are released by nerve cells. Some scientists believe that lower levels of light during winter months may cause the neurotransmitters to become out of balance.

For further information visit the Depression Department.


Deborah G. Alicen, Ph.D., is a private practice psychologist who lives in Plainfield, Vermont--a transplanted Southerner who still can't say "cows" the way real Vermonters do. She has spent the last twelve years working mostly with children, adolescents, and adults recovering from sexual abuse and domestic violence.



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