Drug approved to prevent seasonal affective disorder

June 22, 2006 by  
Filed under DEPRESSION

Longtime sufferers of seasonal depression may now have a way to stop the winter blues before they start. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Monday that it has approved the prescription medication Wellbutrin XL to prevent major depressive episodes caused by seasonal affective disorder. The antidepressant is the first drug approved to treat the condition, which is estimated to affect as many as 10 million Americans each year.

In these people, low levels of sunlight during autumn and winter can trigger a depression that may last as long as six months. Common symptoms include fatigue, oversleeping, impaired social functioning, and weight gain. Doctors often use antidepressant medications and light therapy to treat seasonal affective disorder; now, GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Wellbutrin XL, will be able to market the drug expressly as a preventive measure that can be taken in the fall to head off symptoms.

MORE: USNews.com: Health: In Brief: Mental Health: Drug approved to prevent seasonal affective disorder

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