What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a depressive disorder characterized by recurrent episodes in late fall and winter, alternating with a more normal mood in other times of the year. Also called Major Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern, this disorder is most likely to occur in people living in northern areas. Younger people and women are at higher risk.

What are the symptoms?

SAD typically presents differently than classic depression, which tends to cause weight loss and insomnia. With SAD, most people tend to gain weight and sleep more. Other symptoms include:

Daytime fatigue

Overeating

Lethargy

Hopelessness

Lack of interest in usual activities

Suicidal thoughts

What are some possible treatment options?

As with most depressive disorders, the best treatment includes a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, antidepressant medications, and exercise. This condition can also be treated with light therapy, which consists of daily exposure to a “light box.” Light boxes artificially simulate sunlight, which can help relieve SAD symptoms.

If you think you may be suffering from SAD, contact your healthcare provider to begin a treatment regimen. You can also reach out to us via our Helpline by calling 800-451-9682 or emailing us at helpline@naminc.org.

Read more about SAD here.

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