Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

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If you’ve ever wondered why you just can’t get into the holidays like you used to or actually felt depressed in the fall through winter, you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression related to changes in seasons.

While SAD during the fall and winter months is more common, you may also be affected in the spring and summer months. First of all, clinical depression is not your fault. It may not be something you can just “snap out of” without the help of medical intervention or therapy; it is a mood disorder that affects the neural circuitry in your brain.

Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Having low energy

  • Having problems with sleeping

  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight

  • Feeling sluggish or agitated

  • Having difficulty concentrating

  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty

  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Fall and winter SAD, or winter depression, may include:

  • Oversleeping

  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates

  • Weight gain

  • Tiredness or low energy

Spring and summer SAD, or summer depression, may include:

  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)

  • Poor appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Agitation or anxiety

When should I (or a loved one) see a doctor about seasonal depression?

  • Feeling down for days at a time

  • No desire to engage in activities you normally enjoy

  • Change in sleep patterns

  • Change in appetite

  • Increase in alcohol use

  • Feeling hopeless

  • Suicidal thoughts

The cause of seasonal affective disorder is not certain but should not be taken any less seriously than depression as we know it traditionally. As with other types of depression, SAD can get worse and lead to more complex mental health problems if it’s not treated.

Our physician referral service can provide a wealth of information about our doctors and help you make an appointment.

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