Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

When the temperature drops and the amount of sunlight we see each day gets shorter and shorter, it’s understandable that most people experience the winter blues. For some people, however, the winter blues is actually something much more serious: Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

SAD is a specific type of depression that typically strikes in late fall or winter in relation to the lack of sunlight during that time of year.  An estimated ten million Americans are affected by SAD, and another 1-2 million suffer from a mild form of it, meaning that it affects a total of one in every thirty people in the United States. Since SAD is related to sunlight, it’s more common the farther north you live; prevalence reaches 9.7% in New Hampshire, but it’s only 1.4% in Florida.

No specific diagnostic test exists for SAD; instead, it’s diagnosed through a patient’s history of seasonal depressive episodes. The disorder has been observed to run in families, so a genetic component seems likely; along the same lines, 55% of SAD sufferers reported a close relative with a severe depressive disorder, while 34% reported a close relative with an alcohol addiction. In addition to a lack of light exposure, SAD may be associated with low vitamin D levels in the blood.

There are several common myths surrounding SAD. For example, SAD is more than just a lack of energy or other negative feelings felt during the winter; milder conditions like that are commonly treatable by increasing physical activity. Also, the definition of SAD means that you only experience depression seasonally, during the last two consecutive winters; therefore, people who believe they have SAD do not suffer from other depressive conditions like clinical depression or bipolar disorder.

Some common symptoms of SAD include:

  • Tiredness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Decreased activity level
  • Depression
  • Crying spells
  • Body aches
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Overeating and associated weight gains



If you’re suffering from these symptoms and think you may have SAD, you don’t just have to wait for winter to be over. Instead, try one of the treatments for SAD. For example, phototherapy is the exposure to natural or artificial (typically fluorescent) light for a certain amount of time every day, and 80% of SAD sufferers benefit from phototherapy and show quick improvements after beginning treatment. You may also be able to temporarily or permanently relocate to a more sunlit climate, and traditional therapy may help as well.




What is Seasonal Affective Disorder and How to Treat It

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is generally associated with a kind of depression that appears due to the shorter days in autumn and winter. It does not affect all people, however, more sensitive ones and those who react to decreased amounts of sunlight are predisposed to encounter such type of problems. Of course, even though seasonal affective disorder usually appears in autumn and winter, there are still people who show symptoms during the summer. Other names for seasonal affective disorder are winter blues, winter depression, as well as hibernation reaction. All people can develop seasonal affective disorder, regardless of their age. It has been proven that this disease is rarely found in places with a lot of snow on the ground.


In this article  I will give you further information about the symptoms of the seasonal affective disorder and about the best treatment that could be provided. Although the treatment is strongly individual for every person, there are effective ways in which you can get rid of the unpleasant seasonal affective disorder.


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The General Symptoms of The Seasonal Affective Disorder

Despite the fact that there isn’t strongly defined test for the disease, the general symptoms of SAD include depression, fatigue, troubles with concentration, irritation, overeating and tiredness all the time. When you experience SAD in the summer, the general symptoms are: lack of appetite, insomnia, loss of weight and crying spells. In addition to this, patients also find it difficult to concentrate and are again very irritated. In some cases people even start thinking of suicide, due to the depression that they experience. The intensity of the symptoms is greater in the months when the days are shortest but they usually appear in autumn and last until with the approaching of spring.


Effective Treatment of Seasonal Effective Disorder

  • Antidepressants – They are prescribed for treatments of severe depressions that is observed with peopl who suffer from SAD. If you have chosen this type of treatment, you need to know that medications should be taken as prescribed and that a visible effect can be observed after 4-5 weeks from the beginning of the treatment. Take into account the fact that many antidepressants have side effects, so inform yourself carefully before taking them
  • Light TherapyLight therapy has proven its efficiency for improving the mood of many patients. People sit in front of light boxes which are special lamps, offered in a variety of designs. Light boxes produce very bright light which helps patients change their mood and start feeling more positive. If you choose this method, first make sure that the light box is medically suitable for SAD and that it has been produced by a certified manufacturer.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a therapy that is concentrated on the idea that the way we behave affects how we feel. Patients have discussions with specialists who advise them how to change their negative attitude on certain issues through a series of sessions that last more than a couple of months. The therapy could include a group or an individual programme, depending on the condition of the patient


According to many researches, the cause for SAD is the receiving of inadequate bright light in winter. The bright light can change the chemicals in the brain and can lead to drastic changes of the mood, as well as to severe depressions. In order to have a clean an undisturbed mind, free of negative thoughts, you can try some of the methods for treatments mentioned above. Seasonal affection disorder will disappear, as long as people provide the needed care for their health.