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Seasonal Depression Sinking In

It's a type of depression doctors say you may not know you have.
STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - It's a type of depression doctors say you may not know you have.

Since Daylight Savings is over, doctors are reporting a small spike in the number of patients coming in with signs of depression.

It's called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, and doctors say its symptoms show up about this time each year.

It's a very common disorder, but experts say a lot of people don't realize a change of season can cause depression.

"You want to go to bed early or you think it's 10:00 when it's actually 7:00," Penn State junior, Katelyn Marmon, said.

It's that time of year again.

"I have a harder time getting up in the morning and staying out all day," Marmon said. "Just because I want to curl up and raise my body temperature."

Signs, Dr. Rick Hale, with Mount Nittany Physician Group, says are most common with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

"As it gets darker out, you notice there's less activity and that can lead to depression," Dr. Hale said.

Other signs include mood swings, drowsiness, more food cravings and a lack of interest in your general activities.

So far this year, Dr. Hale says about five-percent of his patients have been diagnosed with SAD, and he says that number is low.

"A lot of people don't believe it exists," he said. "So they think, it's just the dark months and activity and it's the normal routine, but it is a serious condition and you should seek help from a health care provider or seek counseling."

SAD is more common in people between 15 and 55, and in women. Experts aren't sure what causes it, but say it's likely because of a lack of sunlight that upsets your sleep cycle and circadian rhythm.

Dr. Hale says the best therapy?

"Light therapy. You can bring a light in, it's a light you can purchase through the pharmacy and see if that may be effective," he said. "Especially if you work in an office without windows, or you work night shifts, it may be helpful to bring a light in."

Katelyn Mullen has noticed a difference in morale on campus.

"I think students have definitely noticed the change of time and when they have to wake up, it's suddenly bright out or it's getting really dark at 5:00 P.M.," she said.

But she isn't too worried about the upcoming winter season.

"I think something about Penn State is we're known as Happy Valley. I think that's very accurate, no matter what the time of year," Mullen said.

Doctors say anyone who thinks they may suffer from SAD should seek medical attention.

Learn more about SAD here.


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