Spotlight on Seasonal Affective Disorder

Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year. Many people have a type of depression that occurs because it’s so dark and cold (well, not here in SoCal) so much of the time.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may include:

  • Feeling sad, grumpy, moody, or anxious.
  • Losing interest in your usual activities.
  • Eating or craving more carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta.
  • Weight gain
  • Sleeping more and feeling drowsy during the daytime.

Symptoms come and go at about the same time each year. For most people with SAD, symptoms start in September or October and end in April or May.

Experts are not sure what causes SAD, but they think it may be caused by a lack of sunlight. Lack of light may upset your sleep-wake cycle and other circadian rhythms. And it may cause problems with a brain chemical called serotonin that affects mood.

Anyone can get SAD, but it is more common in:

  • People who live in areas where winter days are very short or there are big changes in the amount of daylight in different seasons.
  • Women.
  • People between the ages of 15 and 55. The risk of getting SAD for the first time goes down as you age.
  • People who have a close relative with SAD.

It is considered a depressive mood disorder, and 20% of SAD patients may also have bipolar disorder.

Treatment is often light therapy, with possibly antidepressants and counseling.


Online References:


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