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Turning the clocks back could mean the start of seasonal depression

November 03, 2014

SPRINGFIELD - Daylight Saving Time is officially in full effect. For many people, less sunlight as it gets darker earlier in the evening only takes a bit of adjustment, but for others it can affect their whole mood.

“Daylight Saving Time can be disruptive to your biological rhythms,” says Dr. Benjamin Liptzin, chair, Department of Psychiatry at Baystate Medical Center.

“With daylight being shorter now, people are leaving work when it’s already dark and that can be a challenge for many people,” he added.

The result for some people is seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons and most prevalent during the fall and winter months.

SAD symptoms include: fatigue, feelings of despair, anxiousness and guilt, loss of interest in social events or normally enjoyable activities. Change in appetite, craving for sugary and starchy foods, changes in sleeping patterns including oversleeping or difficulty sleeping, and even thoughts of death or suicide can occur.

“Most people will not develop SAD, but those who do will require special treatment, such as bright light therapy (phototherapy) and medication,” says Dr. Liptzin.

Don’t have SAD, but still feeling the effects of the change in time? Dr. Liptzin recommends trying to adjust your schedule to get more sunlight. If you have no luck at your attempt to gain more sunlight during the week, he suggests catching up on the weekend.