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Getting through the darker days of Washington winters: What you can do to reduce SAD

The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer, making many people prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SEATTLE — It's no secret that winter is quickly approaching, and already Washingtonians are adjusting to darker and colder days.  

Since the summer solstice on June 21, we have lost about five hours of daylight. 

On Thursday, we will have about 11 hours and 10 minutes total of daylight. This equates to about 3 minutes of daylight lost a day since the summer solstice.  

The winter solstice on Dec. 21 will bring just over 8 hours of daylight to Western Washington.

In Seattle, the next time we will see the sun set past 5 p.m. will be on January 27, 2020.

With the shorter days and earlier nights, it's common for many people to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). 

RELATED: VERIFY: Yes, Seasonal Depression is real and can really impact your life

SAD is defined by the American Psychological Association as “a type of depression that lasts for a season, typically the winter months, and goes away during the rest of the year.”

Symptoms overlap with general depression and include fatigue, pervasively sad mood, loss of interest, sleep difficulty or excessive sleeping, craving starches, weight gain, feelings of hopelessness or despair and thoughts of suicide. 

Some ways to fight SAD include:

  • Taking walks outside on your lunch break, if you're able. The sun is at it's highest at noon, giving you the most exposure to the sunshine. 
  • Investing in natural lighting that mimics solar energy. The light, usually a lamp or a special box, can trigger chemicals in your brain that help regulate your mood. 
  • Taking vitamin D supplements during the winter months.
  • Exercising as best as you can. It's easy to become lazier in the colder months but keeping active, but exercise can increase your level of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters.

RELATED: Seattle's sunset will occur before 5 p.m. until January 27

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