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Mental Health Monday: 10 Million Americans impacted by seasonal affective disorder

"Someone who has seasonal affected disorder, that your therapist said you have seasonal affective disorder, it's part of a larger umbrella of a definition."

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — When people use the term seasonal depression, what they're actually referring to is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with.

"Someone who has seasonal affected disorder, that your therapist said you have seasonal affective disorder, it's part of a larger umbrella of a definition," said mental health expert Archie Messersmith-Bunting.

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Although 'winter blues' and SAD both impact people around the same time and can be triggered by the holidays, Messersmith-Bunting says SAD can have a much greater impact, even leading people to have suicidal thoughts.

"That's why I really do believe that words matter," said Messersmith-Bunting. "When we are saying things like seasonal depression we are lessening when someone has a diagnosis of a disorder, so, say you have the winter blues, say what you have."

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Messersmith-Bunting gave the following tips to boost your mood if you're experiencing some winter blues:

  • Invest in a sunlamp to help vitamin D levels, which can be low during the winter season
  • Consider taking vitamin D supplements if your doctor approves it
  • Bundle up and go outside for some fresh air
  • Even though they may be festive, get out of those holiday pajamas. If you're feeling gloomy, don't go for those sweats and hoodies, dress for a more positive attitude

If none of these tips work, you might want to consider speaking with your doctor about seasonal affective disorder.