Finding Light.jpg

Jan 16, 2023, 5:00 am UTC

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Is it the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Forget January 16—"Blue Monday"—the third Monday of January and rumored to be the most depressing day of the year.

There's simply no science behind it.

Instead, when autumn and fall arrive and the days get shorter, pay attention to your mood. Seasonal fluctuations in mood are common, especially among women, and shouldn't be ignored.

Here, we summarize the differences between the winter blues and seasonal affective disorder — and the latest evidence on how to cope.

8f1c0e25_568a_4b8d_a059_d6318f5df883_48a5ef868dInfographic by Cat Lau. (References below.)

Infographic References

  1. Levitt AJ, Boyle MH, Joffe RT, Baumal Z. Estimated prevalence of the seasonal subtype of major depression in a Canadian community sample. Can J Psychiatry. 2000 Sep;45(7):650-4. doi:  10.1177/070674370004500708.
  2. University of Utah Health. (2018, October 18). Seasonal Affective Disorder Affects Women More Than Men.
  3. SciLine – American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2022, November 15). Dr. Kelly Rohan: Beating the winter blues.
  4. Modell JG, Rosenthal NE, Harriett AE, Krishen A, Asgharian A, Foster VJ, Metz A, Rockett CB, Wightman DS. Seasonal affective disorder and its prevention by anticipatory treatment with bupropion XL. Biol
    Psychiatry. 2005 Oct 15;58(8):658-67. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.07.021.
  5. Melrose S. Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches. Depress Res Treat. 2015;2015:178564. doi: 10.1155/2015/178564.
  6. Rohan KJ, Meyerhoff J, Ho SY, Evans M, Postolache TT, Vacek PM. Outcomes One and Two Winters Following Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2016 Mar 1;173(3):244-51. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.15060773.

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