ZocdocAnswersCan a lack of sunlight really affect someone's mood?

Question

Can a lack of sunlight really affect someone's mood?

Does a lack of sunlight make people sad? I always get a little depressed in the winter and I think it might be from lack of sunlight. Is there really a connection between the two?

Answer

You are absolutely correct that there is an association between sunlight and mood. Certain circuits in our brain respond to the amount of light during the day, and these circuits have a strong influence over our mood. Therefore, in the winter months, when there is less daylight, is is common for many people to feel a depressed mood. If this mood leads to significant dysfunction, it is called 'seasonal affective disorder.' Seasonal affective disorder is similar to depression, although the symptoms are not generally as severe. However, seasonal affective disorder can result in significant problems at work, in school, or in relationships for some people. Therefore, if you think you might have a tendency to suffer from seasonal affective disorder, you should make an appointment to discuss the issue with your primary care doctor or with a psychiatrist. This is an excellent time of year to have this discussion, as the winter months are just about to be upon us. If your doctor determines that you do suffer from seasonal affective disorder, then they will be able to recommend treatment options. Some of the most common treatments that are used include light therapy and one of several different antidepressant medications. Good luck.

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