Seasonal Affective Disorder & the Winter Blues



If you have lived in the Northwest for any period of time, you know that all this beautiful green nature around us comes at a price – rain. The dark, dreary days of winter here in Portland can often seem to stretch on for months. For some people, the lack of sunlight simply means another day indoors, but for others if can have a profound effect on their mood and their quality of life.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is when a person experiences increased depression that correspond to the seasons, most frequently with the onset of depressive symptoms occurring during the late fall or early winter months and subsiding in the spring or summer.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

The following are the most common symptoms of SAD, though individual patterns vary. Symptoms may include:

  • increased sleep and daytime drowsiness
  • irritability
  • fatigue, or low energy level
  • decreased sex drive
  • diminished concentration
  • difficulty thinking clearly
  • increased appetite, especially for sweets and carbohydrates causing weight gain


Fortunately, relocating to Florida is not the only answer. Oregon has been a leader in the research on Seasonal Affective Disorder and there is strong empirical support for the effectiveness of making environmental and behavioral changes including the use of a light box, dawn simulators, and other behavioral interventions. If the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are taking a toll on your life, the therapists at the Portland Mood Disorders Clinic can work with you to make the winter months less dreary and daunting. Call us at 503-281-4852 to set up a consultation to see if we can help.

Classes to help deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder and the Winter Blues

Every fall and winter we host some classes about how to cope with the long and dark winter in Portland. To see if we are currently offering classes, you can look here.

Online resources

Center for Environmental Therapeutics has some great background information about SAD and the most effective treatment – light therapy. The website also has some a really good self assessments to help you determine whether you have SAD. If you want someone to help you implement a light therapy plan or are having problems sticking with a plan you have made for yourself, we are experienced in helping people get going and can help you to implement light therapy in the winter months. Light therapy really works. Even NASA is planning on using it with their astronauts.

A good dealer of light therapy devices is Philips Electronics, where you can get light boxes and dawn simulators.

A lot of people with SAD have light boxes, but have a hard time using them. If you need support in making a good plan for dealing with winter depression and implementing remedies like light therapy, we can help.

Videos about dealing with the winter blues and SAD

We have some videos on youtube about dealing with the winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder.


To download a brief informational brochure about Seasonal Affective Disorder, click here.


We’re here if you need help with your seasonal depression.

Give us a call at: 503-281-4852

or send us a message using the confidential form below.

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