“People with SAD often have negative thought patterns after wintertime, and these thought patterns lead to negative emotional experiences,” she explained. “It isn’t clear if these thoughts help to cause SAD or if they are effects of SAD, but regardless, psychological treatment to address negative thinking patterns can be extremely helpful, as is true for all types of depression disorders.”
Dr. Kar further explained some other treatment plans one can use to aid with mental health:
• Engaging in psychological treatment, specifically Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: “CBT has been shown to be as effective in treating SAD symptoms as has light therapy,” she said. This is because “whenever any of us struggle with something difficult,” Dr. Kar began, “we can fall into very negative thinking patterns that cause other negative effects in our lives, whether it’s in our decisions, our relationships, and/or our general ability to feel positive and hopeful. Since many people with SAD have or do struggle with other types of depression, it is very important to look to therapy for long-lasting effectiveness.”
“More importantly, though, research suggests that the positive long-term effects from this type of therapy seem to outlast the effects from light therapy,” Dr. Kar adds.
However, according to a 2004 study by the Journal of Affective Disorders, it’s been hypothesized that CBT would be comparable in treatment to light therapy and using these two treatments at the same time would grant “additive benefits in both the short- and long-term.”
• Taking antidepressants: “Since SAD, which is a subform of major depressive disorder, is associated with low serotonin activity, antidepressants specifically focused on increasing the available serotonin, i.e. ‘Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors’ or SSRIs, can also be helpful to enhance mood,” she said.
But even though controlled trials have suggested that antidepressants are effective in the treatment of SAD, it’s important to talk with your doctor to find the best treatment plan for your mental health.