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A mental health professional may conduct a psychological assessment to determine whether symptoms of depression are indeed related to seasonal changes. A blood count may also be taken to rule out the possibility of a low thyroid level.
Like other forms of depression, seasonal affective disorder can be treated through medication or psychotherapy. Working with a psychotherapist can help patients identify, manage and better cope with negative thoughts, feelings and behavior. If the depression is severe, however, doctors can prescribe antidepressants.
An increasingly popular alternative is light therapy, which involves positioning yourself next to a special lamp that emits a form of bright light that safely mimics natural sunlight. Sitting about two or three feet away from the light source for 15 to 30 minutes in the morning is enough to lessen symptoms in as little as a few days. Possible side effects are eye strain, headache and fatigue.