Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is related to the changes in seasons throughout the year. For most individuals, SAD begins and ends around the same time of the year where symptoms start to be more present in the fall and continue onto winter. However, it is less common for SAD to cause depression during spring or summer time. Individuals' moods can fluctuate depending on the beginning and end when seasons start to change. SAD can also be referred to as "winter blues" or "seasonal depression". These mood changes can be serious and affect the way an individual feels, thinks, or handles daily activities.
SAD is characterized as a type of depression with recurrent seasonal patterns with symptoms that last from 4-5 months a year. Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:
- feeling depressed most of the day almost every day
- having little interest in activities that were once enjoyed
- changes in appetite or weight
- trouble sleeping
- feeling agitated, hopeless, or worthless
- energy levels are low
- difficulty concentrating
- frequent thoughts of death or suicide
- oversleeping (hypersomnia)
- weight gain
- social withdrawel
There are millions of American adults that suffer from SAD and may be unaware that they have the condition. SAD is known to be more common in women than men. It is also more common in individuals living farther north such as Alaska or New England, in comparison to someone living in Florida. For most, SAD occurs in young adulthood and is more common for individuals with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and especially in bipolar II disorder. In addition, individuals with SAD often have other mental disorders like ADHD, eating disorder, panic disorder, or anxiety disorder.
If you have any questions or think you may be suffering from SAD, talk to your health care provider, mental health specialist, or give our office a call at (714)867-7037.