Depressed? It May Not Be Just Holiday Blues

Irritability, fatigue, even craving sweets and starches.

All symptoms of a common depressive disorder linked to holiday stress.

Countless people get the holiday blues, but Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a much more serious matter.

Instead of being down for just a couple of weeks around the holidays, people with SAD start feeling depressed around Columbus Day and don't lighten up until Easter.

And it all has to do with the sun.

Doctors say the holidays are when the days are shortest and there is less sunlight, and that's when more people develop SAD. They say the amount of sunlight we get affects our moods.

Therefore, when people are exposed to less during winter, they feel more depressed.

And women are developing SAD at three times the rate of men.

Treatments for sad vary depending on how serious the patient's condition is.

Cures range anywhere from prescribing medication and talking to a counselor to getting a light box that mimics sunlight throughout the day.

But many doctors say the simplest cure is taking a trip to the beach, or even the park, to get some real sun.