-- Randy Dotinga
SATURDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Feel the blues in the
winter? You might blame seasonal affective disorder, a form of
depression that's thought to be driven by weather and the time of
year. Now, a new study raises questions about whether this
condition is as common as researchers have believed.
"It is clear from prior research that seasonal affective disorder exists," study lead author David Kerr, an assistant professor in the School of Psychological Science at Oregon State University, said in a university news release. "But our research suggests that what we often think of as the winter blues does not affect people nearly as much as we may think."
Kerr and colleagues analyzed the results from surveys given to
more than 550 people in Iowa and more than 200 people in Oregon who
answered questions about depression over years. Researchers tried
to link the answers to changes in weather conditions, such as the
amount of sunlight.
"We found a very small effect during the winter months, but it was much more modest than would be expected if seasonal depression were as common as many people think it is," Columbia University researcher Jeff Shaman, a study co-author, said in the news release. "We were surprised. With a sample of nearly 800 people and very precise measures of the weather, we expected to see a larger effect."
People who think they suffer from seasonal affective disorder
should get help, Kerr said. Effective treatments include
antidepressants, cognitive behavior therapy and exposure to
"Fortunately, there are many effective treatments for depression, whether or not it is seasonal," he said. "Cognitive behavior therapy stands out because it has been shown to keep seasonal affective disorder from returning the next year."
The study appears in the
Journal of Affective Disorders.
For more about
seasonal affective disorder, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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