Seasonal affective disorder can leave you feeling hopeless

Many of us fall victim to the "winter blues" when the dark days and cold temperatures leave us longing for spring and sunshine.

About twenty percent of us could be suffering from a more serious condition. Seasonal affective disorder is a *subset* of depression that is linked to a particular time of year -- generally winter. Some people may also feel hopeless, or even have suicidal thoughts.

If your symptoms are affecting your ability to work or function at home or at school ... That's a sign you need help.

Doctor Samarian says using a light therapy box for 30 to 60 minutes a day can also be helpful. "If the mood is severe enough, the approach with antidepressants plus the light therapy can definitely help a majority of people with that syndrome." And if you *can* push yourself to get outdoors or exercise more often, it's worth it.

But it's important to recognize the difference between the "Winter blues" and more serious symptoms. "It's a spectrum disorder. Because some of us get a little bit frustrated with winter and some of us get severely depressed and we want to make sure there's a difference and an understanding ... That when you're in a severe depression, you need a little more than just getting out to exercise."

During any given two week period about eight-percent of people say they're depressed. And the number of women suffering with depression is nearly *twice* that of men. That's according to the national center for health statistics.

The report also found race and income levels may also have an impact on depression and mental health.