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Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder

The following treatment guidelines are meant as a reference tool only, and are not intended as treatment advice or to replace the clinical decision-making process of psychiatrists or other health professionals who administer these treatments. In clinical practice there are often good reasons why treatment approaches differ from what is described here.

 

Light Therapy should be considered as a first option [ref, ref].  If this does not bring any improvement within 4 weeks, or does not resolve the Depression within 8 weeks, then follow the approach for treating a Major Depressive Episode. Note that among the antidepressants, Bupropion may be particularly effective for preventing winter Depressive Episodes [ref].

If the Light Therapy had helped to bring partial improvement to the depressive symtpoms, then it should be continued, but if it did not offer any significant improvement then it should be stopped.

If Light Therapy was found to be effective, then even if the Depressive Episode resolves it should be continued for the remainder of the winter and early spring, but can be stopped after early spring.  For individuals who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder every year, Light Therapy should be started in the late summer or early fall even if no depressive symptoms have yet appeared.

 

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Menopause

Minor Depressive Episode