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Combating seasonal affective disorder

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BILLINGS, Mont. -

As winter approaches, the days grows shorter and daylight hours are reduced. Winter blues may be to blame for fatigue and disturbed sleeping patterns.  

How do you know if you're just experiencing more than just the winter blues? Dr. Brad Fuller said seasonal affective disorder can affect anyone at any age.

"It's cooler temperatures, you can't get outside as much, you can't exercise as much, it's more gloomy and all these little things play a role in our brain," Dr. Fuller said. "There's three hormones, there's serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and those sorts of things play a role in our hormone balance. If that balance is out of wack unfortunately it can cause depression, fatigue or lack of ambition to do things." 

Psychologist Dr. Karen Kietzman said the best way to fight against SAD is to maintain ongoing communication with family and friends. She said SAD can cause us to withdraw from social interaction.

Kietzman encourages you to go outside and experience as much daylight as you can and basically, keep up with your daily routine.

Dr. Fuller also suggests staying active, continue playing sports or take your exercise indoors. He also stresses eating healthy and maintaining a balanced diet.

Both suggest taking vitamin D supplements as the days grow shorter and said melatonin pills can also help with sleep. Both of them advise that if these symptoms linger on for several weeks to months to contact your doctor and seek treatment. 

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