Seasonal affective disorder also known as SAD, is a type of depression related to the change in season. Typically, SAD occurs in the fall and winter; however, sometimes SAD causes spring and summer depression as well, although it is far less common.
Symptoms of depression include feeling hopeless or worthless, feeling depressed for most of the day and nearly every day, having low energy, losing interest in daily activities, having trouble sleeping, appetite and/or weight changes, difficulty concentrating, and possibly thoughts of death or suicide. Specific symptoms of fall/winter SAD include low energy, oversleeping, overeating, weight gain, and social withdrawal; spring/summer SAD symptoms include poor appetite and weight loss, not sleeping enough, agitation, anxiety, restlessness, and violent episodes.
Females, young adults, those who live far from the equator, and those who have a family history of depression or mood disorders are more at risk for developing SAD. Diagnosis of SAD happens if the patient has experienced symptoms of depression in a repeating seasonal pattern for at least 2 years. Diagnosis for SAD includes a physical or psychological exam and sometimes a blood test to rule out impaired thyroid function. Those who are diagnosed with SAD may also have trouble regulating serotonin, a hormone that effects your mood, and producing vitamin D. They may also be producing too much of the “sleep hormone,” melatonin.
Treatments and therapies for SAD include anti-depressant medication, light therapy, psychotherapy, and vitamin D supplements. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder, speak with your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups may also be available for further resources, emotional support, and information.
Description Last Updated: Aug 20, 2018