Seasonal Affective Disorder

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer.

Who’s at Risk for Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD is diagnosed more often in women than men and occurs more frequently in people who live far north or south of the equator.

What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

The specific cause of SAD isn't known, but it's likely linked to your biological clock (circadian rhythm), serotonin levels, and melatonin levels, all of which can be affected by sunlight.

How Does Seasonal Affective Disorder Start?

SAD typically starts in the fall or winter months and subsides in the spring and summer.

What Are the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Symptoms of SAD can include fatigue, depression, hopelessness, and social withdrawal.

How is Seasonal Affective Disorder Diagnosed?

SAD is usually diagnosed based on a detailed patient history, a physical exam, and sometimes mental health assessments.

How Can Seasonal Affective Disorder Be Treated?

Treatments for SAD include light therapy (phototherapy), medications, and psychotherapy.

What Complications May Occur with Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Without treatment, SAD can lead to serious complications such as social withdrawal, school or work problems, substance abuse, other mental health disorders such as anxiety or eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts or behavior.

How Can I Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder?

While it may not be possible to prevent all cases of SAD, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, staying connected with social networks, and getting outside during daylight hours can help manage symptoms and prevent them from getting worse.

Long-term Management of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Long-term management involves regular use of light therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and in some cases, medication. Regular exercise and outdoor activities during daylight hours can also be helpful.

What is Recent Research Saying About Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Recent research is focused on understanding the biological and genetic factors that may contribute to SAD. New treatments, such as vitamin D supplementation and novel light therapy devices, are also being investigated.

Where Can I Go For More Information on Seasonal Affective Disorder?

For more information on SAD, visit reputable health websites like the American Psychiatric Association, the Mayo Clinic, or the National Institute of Mental Health.