Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that typically manifests itself in the fall and winter months. Symptoms vary from feeling sad to irritability, extreme fatigue, apathy, or even anxiety. The extended period of limited sunlight during winter months tends to play a significant role in seasonal affective disorder. Many people can treat their symptoms with small, regular doses of sunlight during the day or by purchasing a UV light to use in their homes. Vitamin D3 purchased over the counter may also help. Exercising regularly is an excellent way to stimulate the brain's natural production of serotonin and endorphins which can improve mood and energy. Yoga and meditation particularly can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Sleeping least 7-8 hours on a regular schedule and maintaining proper nutrition can also help. If symptoms are not able to be managed with lifestyle, or if existing depression and anxiety are worsening, it may be time to talk with your physician about medication and/or referral to a licensed counselor or psychologist. Antidepressant medications may be used during the winter months to ease symptoms in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle. Cognitive behavioral therapy is an excellent option for people wishing to avoid medication. Fortunately when the sunlight returns and the weather warms, Seasonal Affective Disorder often abates and medications can be discontinued. However, it is important to maintain those healthy lifestyle changes year round because winter returns at the same time every year!