Effects of seasonal affective disorder can last up to six months

The disorder is generally more common in women and in those older than 20 years old, according to Dr. Shannon Markegard.

We all know that feeling when the weather starts to change and we can feel our moods make a shift as well.

For some people this can be a form of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Dr. Shannon Markegard said many of her patients she sees who suffer from SAD start complaining of symptoms as early as October.

Markegard is a doctor of osteopathic medicine at Valley Medical Center’s Maple Valley Clinic.

She said those symptoms can include being tired, having low motivation, gaining weight or just being sad.

Markegard added these symptoms are very similar to symptoms of depression.

Depression worsens during the holiday months, Markegard said. However, SAD is a weather-based depression.

Before she can be sure her patients are suffering from SAD, Markegard said she checks with them to see if there is anything in their life — finances, career, marriage — that may be impacting their mood.

She said many of her patients that suffer from SAD do not typically have depression symptoms.

For people affected by SAD, their symptoms can last for four to six months, she said.

“SAD is more common the further north you go,” she said. “It is seven times more common in Washington than in Florida.”

She added SAD is generally more common in women and in those older than 20 years old.

To treat her patients, Markegard said she likes to get down to the basics first.

She recommends her patients get enough sleep, eat well, exercise and take vitamin D supplements.

Markegard recommends her patients do these things year round but they are even “more important during winter months,” she said.

There are other treatments that patients with SAD can do to help their symptoms.

One is light therapy, she said. HappyLight is a light that emulates natural daylight, helping improve mood, energy and concentration. To read about HappyLight therapy, visit https://verilux.com/store/happylight-therapy-lamps.

Two other treatments that providers and their patients may use to treatment symptoms of SAD are counseling and medication.

Markegard said her patients tend to restart and see their symptoms improve in May and June when the days start getting longer.

Those who suffer from SAD know it’s coming and are able to plan for it, Markegard said.

“They know it is coming,” she said. “And that it will go away when summer starts.”

She said her patients that are prepared for SAD symptoms to hit them as the weather changes, they start sleeping better or exercising more or they come in sooner to see her.

She said she wants people to “know this is real,” she said. “It is a real condition and can be real bothersome for people.”

Markegard suggested people who feel like they may have symptoms similar to SAD should reach out to their providers and see what treatments would work best for them.

Reach Editor Sarah Brenden at sbrenden@rentonreporter.com or 425-336-4959.

More in Life

Registering to vote online or in-mail ends Monday

In-person registration is available up until Election Day, Aug. 6.

Cruz the Loop and Return to Renton Benefit Car Show set for July 6, 7

Hot Rod weekend, downtown, will have some street closures.

Join author Kurt Armbruster for a discussion of his latest book, “Pacific Coast, Seattle’s Own Railroad” at 6 p.m. May 16 at the Renton History Museum, 235 Mill Ave. S. Courtesy photo
Upcoming events: Pacific Coast Railroad history lesson; coffee with Renton cops

Symphony: Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra Spring Masterworks Concert will highlight Tchaikovsky’s Symphony… Continue reading

Renton Rotary’s Youth of the Month for May

Five Renton students were selected as May 2019 Youth of the Month to finish off the school year.

Gardeners love our veggie-friendly Western Washington climate

Here are the most incredible edibles to grow now.

A look back at Black River

Renton History Museum hosts event with Seattle writer and natural history expert David Williams.

It is a busy time in the garden with planting

Near the end of April the nurseries will be overflowing with color.… Continue reading

Thom Cantrell, one of the organizers of the upcoming International Conference for Primal People, holds up a mould of a Sasquatch footprint. He said the mould was taken in the Blue Mountains in Oregon by Paul Freeman, a well-known Sasquatch hunter who’s 1994 footage of a Sasquatch in that area made big waves in the believer and skeptic communities alike. Photo by Ray Miller-Still
All things Sasquatch in Enumclaw

Washington state is famous for countless reasons. It’s the birthplace of Starbucks… Continue reading

RHS Students gear up for Bubblin Brown Sugar dance competition

The competition is April 27 at Garfield High School.

Special police partners honored

King County Sheriff’s Office dedicates new memorial to honor K9 service dogs and handlers.