Fighting Winter Depression

This might be the time of year that some depression kicks in for many people.  We're through the holidays and winter weather has been stepping up around the country too. 

There's actually a name for it -- Seasonal Affective Disorder -- and it impacts millions of Americans each year, 

Dr. Sagar Parikh of JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey  joins us now with advice on how to deal with this.

Lauren Barnas, KOLR10 News: "So what advice do you have for those dealing with this?"

"First of all depression is a year long illness, about 19 million Americans get it every year," Dr. Parikh says. "It does worsen in the winter. Lack of light,lack of exercise, we don't tend to socialize as much. So when depression hits, it's important to recognize the symptoms and and treat them."

"What kind of treatment options are available?" Barnas asks.

"Well, there are many treatments for depression, most common are anti-depressants. But one problem anti-depressants have is they're successful less than 50 percent of the time with respect to the first medicine that you choose. So you often have to try serveral to find the best for you. And thats been a problem until now, we have new tests to help with personalized choices."

"And some of those are genetic tests?"

"So the most popular right now is a genetic test called Genesite," Dr. Parikh explains.  "It looks at 12 genes some in the brain and some in the liver. And that tells us how meds are going to work for us in green, yellow, and red. Green ones being the meds most likely to work and have less side effects."

"Any estimate of a number of people that deal with this seasonally?" Barnas asks.

"not sure but of the 19 million, about half of those feel it more in the winter months," Dr. Parikh says. 

"Anything else besides meds that can help?  Natural remedies, exercise?"

"Actually there are several self help books which teach psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Thats by far the most effective, thats tested in research just like anti-depressant meds is. Exercise the way that your heart doctor reccomends three times a week of aerobic exercise, that helps. And exposure to bring light in the winter for at least 30 min utes a day helps everyday for weeks."

So get outside even when it's cold and we don't want to - take advantage of the sunny days and get some exercise!

More Stories

Latest News

Video Center