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Don't get SAD, get lit (and prevent the winter blues)

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As the clouds move in across Metro Vancouver for the next little while, the lack of daily, uncut sunlight may leave you blue in the long run.

It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, and Dr. Shimi Kang, clinical assistant professor at UBC’s Institute of Mental Health, says It’s important, especially as the days grow shorter, to get as much sun as you can, even when it’s cloudy.

“Sunlight is really the key. In terms of exposure to sunlight, as much as you can get. Even on a cloudy, rainy day, there is definitely natural light that comes through those clouds,” Dr. Kang explains.

The peak time for symptoms to emerge is actually late fall and early winter and they can take the form of depression, sleeplessness or a general low level of energy.

Light therapy, natural or a boxed version, is another option to prevent the onset of symptoms and should be done sooner than later, she suggests.

“Early-morning sunlight is also very effective. Light therapy is the other option or an additional option. These are special light boxes that emit a 10,000 lux light, mimicking sunlight. And again, exposure to that first thing in the morning is the best way.”

If you cannot get outside or do not have time to sit in front of a light box, Vitamin D supplements are readily available at any store with a health section.