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Novant Health therapist explains seasonal affective disorder ahead of winter months

On Friday, Novant Health held an info session on Seasonal Affective Disorder to explain what it is, and how to counteract it.

As the cooler weather rolls in and the sun begins to set earlier and earlier going into the winter, more people are susceptible to developing seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.

People with SAD typically experience depression in the fall and winter. Symptoms often end in the longer days of spring and summer — but not always. Jaren Doby, a Novant Health therapist, explains how it’s typically diagnosed:

“It's really diagnosed by, of course, patterns. [We] really need to look more specifically within the last two years of having two depressive episodes that occur, and are demonstrated during those seasonal or some temporal kind of relationships," Doby said.

The actual diagnosis one can expect to see on a paper, however, will be “major depression with seasonal pattern,” Doby said.

According to Doby, research shows that individuals, more commonly women, and people on the younger side of the 18-30 year age range are more likely to develop SAD.

Treatment for SAD is not a one-size fits all approach. For some, medication or therapy works, for others a combination of the two is the way to go. But Doby makes one thing clear, people cannot succumb to SAD to the point they isolate and don’t go out.

“But I have to make sure that I warn folks, do not go into hibernation. Make sure that you're making plans, being around people that you know and love is very important," he said.

Doby said people should consult their doctor and seek professional help whenever they feel their daily life is being impacted negatively by how they’re feeling. The rule of thumb is to see a doctor wherever you’re concerned about something, and the same applies to feelings, thoughts, and moods, Doby said.

Camille hails from Long Island, NY and graduated from Boston University with a BS in Journalism and double minors in Classical Civilizations and Philosophy. Her story focus revolves her deep care for children, young adults and mental health. You can reach her at cmojica@whqr.org.