Seasonal Affective Disorder

Ester Freider, TB 4

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression in which someone's energy & mood levels drop at a certain time of the year annually, commonly wintertime, and are restored afterwards. This is caused by limited light exposures in the winter and the brain's response. Greater amounts of the chemical melatonin, which is triggered by darkness and is linked to sleep, are released due to the shorter days, and less serotonin, which is released in sunlight, causes a greater likelihood of depression.

What are the symptoms of SAD?

Someone with SAD will have many significant changes in a predictable, seasonal pattern. These are similar to depression symptoms, and include:

  • Changes in mood will most likely happen, and the person may be more sensitive or get upset easily, in addition to a feeling of worthlessness.
  • Less socialization will affect a person's time spent with friends or in social activities.
  • Lack of enjoyment may cause the the person to no longer have fun doing things they normally like or think that they aren't good enough or as good at something as they used to be.
  • Low energy, such as unexplained sleepiness and fatigue, can occur.
  • Changes in sleep such as excessive sleeping is a symptom, and may impact a student's ability to wake up early and stay awake.
  • Difficulty concentrating can interfere with a person's grades and ability to work, causing less effort and less motivation.
  • Changes in diet, like overeating and the want for carbs and sugary stuff will come from SAD.

How does SAD affect someone?

SAD, due to various symptoms, can cause lower-than-usual grades, less socialization, low self esteem, inability to wake up early, not as good at sports or games, and crying or sadness.

Because sunlight hits the equator for a longer time, scientists believe that the farther you are from the equator, the more likely you are to get SAD.

How is SAD diagnosed?

If someone suspects that they have SAD, then they make a medical checkup with a doctor to make sure that it isn't a different condition with similar symptoms like hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, or mononucleosis.

How is SAD treated?

To help cope with this disorder, doctors may recommend some of these treatments:
Also, doctors may prescribe you medication like antidepressants, which restore the balance between serotonin & melatonin. If a person is taking any other medications, they should let their doctor know before prescription of SAD medications.