Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), refers to a type of depression that is recurrent and seasonally dependent.
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) it is also referred to as Major Depressive Disorder with seasonal pattern.
Most people with SAD feel symptoms come on in the fall and generally feel them all through the winter months.
Symptoms, which include lethargy, sadness, and general depression, usually dissipate once spring arrives. In rare cases, SAD causes depression in the spring and summer and dissipates in the fall and winter.
Fall and Winter Symptoms of SAD include:
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Tiredness or low energy
- Inability to concentrate
Research indicates that SAD occurs more often in women than in men, and it more common in those living in northern states than in the southern states due to shorter daylight hours in winter.
How is SAD diagnosed? If you think you may be suffering from SAD, talk to your health care provider or a mental health specialist about your concerns. He or she will provide you with an assessment to determine if your symptoms meet the criteria for SAD.
What are my treatment options? Treatments are available that can help many people with SAD. They fall into four main categories that may be used alone or in combination:
- Light therapy
- Talk therapy
- Antidepressant medications
- Vitamin D
Talk to your health care provider about which treatment, or combination of treatments, is best for you. For tips for talking with your health care provider, refer to the NIMH fact sheet, Taking Control of Your Mental Health: Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider.
Don’t suffer in silence. Seek support from a mental health specialist and get the support that you need. If you’d like to learn more about treatment options, please feel free to reach out to me.