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How Pharmacists Can Help With Seasonal Depression

That time of year is approaching. Since winter has begun today and the holidays are around the corner, seasonal depression is an important topic for pharmacists to be informed on for the months to come to better serve customers and guide them in the direction of a happier and healthier winter.

What Is SAD

In an article from MDVIP, Janet Tiberian talks about the "winter blues" or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and how it affects people during the colder months of the year. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a common feeling people experience as the days of winter grow longer, darker and colder. Tiberian talks about SAD as, "most often associated with the fall and winter months and can cause feelings of sluggishness, sadness and even hopelessness. You also might find changes in your usual sleeping patterns, energy levels and appetite." Sunlight is an important factor to maintain daily biological functions. When it is harder to spend more time outside, it is easy to feel down and gloomy. Tiberian mentions that this lack of sunlight can:

  • Interfere with the functioning of circadian rhythms, causing depression.

  • Result lower levels of vitamin D, which activates the release dopamine and serotonin – brain chemicals associated with feelings of happiness. It can also affect the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls sleep, mood and appetite.

  • Result lower levels of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep and mood.

Where Pharmacists Come In

Although SAD may be common, it is not something to ignore. There are ways to improve SAD symptoms. If you encounter someone who is experiencing signs of seasonal depression, here are some helpful remedies to offer for them:

  • Vitamin D supplements: The winter season could be the perfect opportunity to promote your best Vitamin D supplements and guide people to your shelves.

  • Walk outside during the hours of sunlight: Thirty minutes of exercise is always greatly encouraged, especially when it is harder to do during the colder months. Encourage people to grab a coat, gloves and scarf and take that time out of the day as it could make a huge difference in someone's mood and health.

  • Light therapy lamps: Another solution that may not be as commonly known is a light that is UV free with adjustable brightness and can be used to add the sense of sunlight and warmth into the winter. They are available at Amazon and other big retail stores but could also be something to consider adding into your pharmacy.

  • Visit a physician: SAD can be very serious and is a form of depression. When someone is dealing with SAD recommend them to contact a physician and find out what they suggest. Some times a more clinical approach is needed by prescribing an anti-depressant or seeing a specialist.

Please keep this information in mind as we go deeper into the winter season and look out for yourself, your friends, your family and your customers!


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