Feeling SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a legitimate disorder brought on by a change in weather.

The shorter days and colder weather of winter is here — and so is the increase in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The American Academy of Family Physicians found that 4 to 6 percent of Americans suffer from SAD.

Are you are feeling unmotivated and depressed for no apparent reason? Are you irritable? Do you suffer from lack of sleep or lapses in concentration? Chances are you might be prone to SAD.

Here are 8 techniques to help you fight off symptoms or at least ease the intensity of SAD:

1. Dawn Simulators

Toss the loud, annoying alarm and wake up peacefully with clocks that mimic the changing light of the sun. Dawn simulators gradually wake you up with light that increases in intensity to simulate morning sunshine. The most effective ones use full-spectrum light, which is as close to natural light as possible.

2. Essential Oils

Essentials oils are the purest essence of a plant — its oils. Essential oils promote restoration in the body and influence moods. And they don’t just smell good — they have shown to have the effect of an antidepressant on depressive disorders.

3. Exercise

Exercise is a common prescription to ease depression. Moderate exercise like walking, running and yoga release endorphins and neurotransmitters to the brain. These chemicals can increase your mood and keep your immune system healthy.

4. Go Outside

Get as much natural light as you can if you are fighting seasonal depression or wintertime seasonal affective disorder. If you get home after dark, change your schedule and bundle up for a walk during lunch — the Vitamin D from the sun boosts your energy.

5. Create a Schedule

People suffering from SAD typically gain weight and can’t sleep during the winter months. Outline a schedule that enables you to wake up daily at the same time. Be consistent in your exposure to daylight and the times that you eat to help improve your mental outlook.

6. Take a Vacation

There are several benefits from taking vacation. Planning a trip creates day-by-day excitement and gives you something to look forward to. Choosing a warmer climate boosts your Vitamin D intake and provides an escape from the cold — both of which are guaranteed to lift your mood. And the residual effects of a vacation are great — you’ll notice that your lighter mood lingers even after you return home.

7. Meditate

Meditation is learning how to quiet your mind in the middle of chaos. It also helps you be intentional with how you react. Consistently practicing this form of focus balances seasonal depression by decreasing anxiety and enhancing overall well-being.

8. Speak with Your Doctor

SAD is a form of depression. The therapeutic ways to combat SAD don’t always work. If you can’t shake feelings of anxiety and sadness, find a mental health professional to guide you to treatment that is best for you.

Do you suspect you suffer from SAD? Reach out to a Keck Medicine professional for help.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and are looking for exceptional care from some of the top specialists in the world, schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.

By Heidi Tyline King