ST. CLOUD -- Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that affects an estimated 10-million Americans. It comes as the days get shorter and daylight diminishes.

A St. Cloud sleep specialist says when you add the extra stress caused by the election and the coronavirus pandemic, the symptoms can get worse.

Dr. Troy Payne is the Medical Director for Sleep Medicine at CentraCare. He says we're being told to stay home and isolate ourselves to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But, he says those who suffer from S.A.D. may experience greater feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and loss of sleep.

Dr. Payne says it's good to get out and go for walks.  Make sure you are still talking to others and keeping relationships alive, and consider light therapy. Statistics show 80-85% of patients see improvement through light therapy. He says lightboxes are available at various stores and on Amazon for around $50.

If you are experiencing some of these symptoms including sluggishness, difficulty concentrating, or losing interest in your favorite activities it's important to contact your doctor.

Usually Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called the winter blues, starts to improve as the days get longer.  Dr. Payne says they see patients starting to get better as early as January and February as the daylight hours grow despite being some of the coldest days of the year.

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