News You Can Use - December 2016

What is Winter Depression?

Girl - depressionDo you experience increased moodiness and a marked decrease in energy throughout the winter months? You may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), otherwise known as Winter Depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a pattern of depressive illness in which symptoms occur every winter. Research suggests that the pineal gland in the brains of some people are more highly sensitive to the loss of natural light (beginning when the days become shorter in the fall). Usually peaking in January, this form of depressive illness is accompanied by a host of difficult reactions ranging from depression (and suicidal ideation in the most severe cases) to sluggishness, carbohydrate craving, or seeing everything in a negative light and interpreting the actions of others in the same negative light.

The most common symptoms of Winter Depression include:

  • Extreme fatigue and lack of energy
  • Increased need for sleep, sleeping much more than usual
  • Carbohydrate craving and increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Low sex drive
  • Feelings of persistent sadness, anxiety, irritability
  • Improved mood on sunny days

What treatments are available for those with Winter Depression?

Light therapy - morning exposure to bright, full-spectrum light - can often be dramatically helpful for those suffering from SAD. As little as 20-30 minutes per day of sitting under a light box results in significant improvement in 60% to 80% of SAD patients. Ask your doctor which type of light box he or she prefers, and get specific instructions on what time of day to use it, and for how long.

Other treatments for depression - including antidepressant medications and counseling - may also be helpful. People with milder symptoms of the "winter blahs" may be helped by simply spending more time outdoors and exercising regularly in the fall and winter.

Your EAP is here to help

If you think you or a family member may suffer from Winter Depression, contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for CONFIDENTIAL counseling, referrals or information. Remember, your EAP is always available to help you or your dependents with any personal, family or work-related concern. If you need help, why not call an EAP Professional today? We're here to help.

Employee Assistance Program Services

Employee Assistance Program symbolThe Broward County Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to all Broward County Government employees and their families to assist with most personal problems affecting the quality of life at home or on the job at no charge. Participation in the program is voluntary and completely confidential. Licensed professionals can assist you with:

  • Family problems
  • Work conflicts
  • Stress
  • Grief and loss
  • Financial problems
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Anxiety

Call for a free and confidential appointment or more information at 954-357-5600 or email at Additional information on our services is also available at

Copyright © 2016 Healthy Exchange. This newsletter is not intended to provide medical advice on personal wellness matters, which should be obtained directly from your physician.