Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression, is a form of depression which comes and goes with a particular season, most often winter. SAD is classified under the DSM as a mood disorder. One if its main causes is seasonal variation in natural light which upsets the body’s circadian rhythm
Some of the symptoms of SAD
- Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Moodiness or irritability
- Weight gain
- Sexual problems
- Social anxiety
- A craving for heavy carbohydrates such as pastas.
- Nearly 500 000 Americans suffer from SAD.
- More women suffer from it than men
- People between the ages of 15 and 55 are most likely to be affected
- People who may have a genetic predisposition for depression are more at risk
- Most SAD sufferers live far away from the equator, where the days shorten during winter months and exposure to sunlight is reduced.
The most common form of therapy for SAD sufferers is light therapy
. This includes specialized lightboxes that contain different wavelengths of light rays to simulate sunlight. Another common type of light therapy is a dawn simulator, a special light programmed to gradually increase in intensity during morning hours, simulating the sun setting. Artificial light therapy is good when natural light is unavailable, but according to one particular study
, even the winter sun is more powerful. The study found that during the winter months, walking outside for an hour during daylight is equivalent to two and a half hours under bright artificial lights.
Other Treatment Options
Similar to other types of Depression, regular exercise is recommended for people with SAD. Outdoors exercise is targeted as especially beneficial, as working out in natural sunlight will help the person two-fold. Other helpful therapies include relaxation techniques such as massage, talking with a therapist, and in some cases the use of anti-depressants
is necessary during the effecting season.
How SAD is Diagnosed?
If you are suffering from some of the above-mentioned symptoms and are wondering if you may have SAD, visit your doctor today so they can perform a mental health assessment
to determine if you may be suffering from SAD or another form of depression.