What is Seasonal affective disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is type of depression. It happens during certain seasons of the year—most often fall or winter. It is thought that shorter days and less daylight may trigger a chemical change in the brain leading to symptoms of depression.
What are the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?
There are two types of SAD:
Fall-onset. This is also called “winter depression.” Symptoms of depression begin in the late fall to early winter months and ease during the summer months.
Spring-onset. This is also called “summer depression.” Symptoms of depression begin in late spring to early summer. This type is much less common.
What are the SAD symptoms?
- Increased sleep and daytime drowsiness
- Loss of interest and pleasure in activities formerly enjoyed
- Social withdrawal and increased sensitivity to rejection
- Irritability and anxiety
- Feelings of guilt and hopelessness
- Fatigue, or low energy level
- Decreased sex drive
- Decreased ability to focus or concentrate
- Trouble thinking clearly
- Increased appetite, especially for sweets and carbohydrates
- Weight gain
Symptoms tend to come back and then improve at about the same times every year.
What are the variois treatment options for SAD?
- Vitamin D deficiency: Your serotonin level also gets a boost from vitamin D. Since sunlight helps produce vitamin D, less sun in the winter can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. That change can affect your serotonin level and your mood.
- Melatonin boost: Melatonin is a chemical that affects your sleep patterns and mood. The lack of sunlight may stimulate an overproduction of melatonin in some people. You may feel sluggish and sleepy during the winter.
- Types of treatment that have been studied for SAD include medication (antidepressants), psychotherapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT), light therapy, and dietary supplements (such as vitamin D).