Seasonal affective disorder is a kind of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter. It is similar to regular depression except sufferers are usually very tired and have an increase in their appetite. People who live in places with long winter nights are at a greater risk for SAD.
Symptoms are usually the same as with other forms of depression:
- Unhappiness and irritability
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of energy
- Sluggish movements
- Loss of interest in work or other activities
- Our biological clock. The reduced level of sunlight in the fall and winter may disrupt our body's internal clock, which lets you know when you should sleep or be awake
- Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood, may trigger depresion.
- Melatonin inbalance, a sleep-related hormone has been linked to SAD.
SIGNS AND TESTS:
There is no test for SAD. Your healthcare provider can make a diagnosis by asking about your history of symptoms. Even with a thorough evaluation, it can sometimes be difficult for your doctor or mental health provider to diagnosis seasonal affective disorder because other types of depression or other mental health conditions can cause similar symptoms.
The following criteria must be met for a diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder:
- You have experienced depression and other symptoms for at least two consecutive years, during the same season every year.
- The periods of depression have been followed by periods without depression.
- There are no other explanations for the changes in your mood or behavior.
Treatment for seasonal affective disorder may include light therapy, medications, and psychotherapy. For milder symptoms, spending time outdoors during the day or arranging homes and workplaces to receive more sunlight may be helpful.
GET HELP RIGHT AWAY IF YOU HAVE THOUGHTS OF HURTING YOURSELF OR ANYONE ELSE.
For more information:
- United States National Library of Medicine:
- Medline Plus:
- Mental Health America: http://www.nmha.org/go/sad
- Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder/DS00195