Seasonal Affective Disorder

By Libby C

What is it?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that appears at the same time each year. With this condition, a person will usually experience symptoms of depression and unexplained fatigue as winter approaches. When spring returns, people with SAD experience relief from these symptoms.

Signs and symptoms

  • changes in mood
  • lack of enjoyment
  • low energy
  • changes in sleep
  • changes in eating
  • difficulty concentrating
  • less time socializing
These signs and symptoms will usually occur during the winter months, and then will almost completely disappear during spring and summer.

How does it affect someone?

People with seasonal affective disorder become depressed around the winter months. They get tired more easily, the more melatonin a persons body creates, a chemical in the body that helps regulate a sleep schedule, the person will feel more sleepy or lethargic.

Other forms or names?

Seasonal Affective Disorder can also be called SAD.

How is it diagnosed?

A doctor will carefully evaluate a persons behavior from the past seasons. Based on their actions and feelings from previous seasons. This studying may take place over the course of a few years. Tiredness, fatigue, and low energy may be a sign of a different disease, this makes diagnosis more difficult. Doctors must take every variable into consideration when diagnosing SAD.

How is it treated?

  • Increased light exposure- the symptoms of SAD are usually triggered by the lack of light, so one might be told to spend more time outside in the sunlight.
  • Light Therapy- also called phototherapy. This uses special light that simulates daylight.
  • Talk Therapy- Talking about revising negative thoughts, this eases the sense of isolation.
  • Medications- antidepressants, these should be prescribed by a doctor.

Interesting facts

People with SAD can experience a reverse seasonal depression. The symptoms, instead of occurring in winter months, would occur in summer months.

The amount of people that have SAD changes from region to region. In an area that gets more sunlight year round, there are less people who have SAD.

Females are four times more likely to develop any type of depression, including SAD.

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