Seasonal Affective Disorder 1 What is seasonal affective disorder?

I decided to include this article on for two reasons. First, because many people suffer from this without even knowing they have it or what they can do about it. Second, I believe it can be a part of many people's struggle with disorganization -- especially during the winter months.

I hope you find value, inspiration and help below.

Note: The words in [] are mine and not the author's.

By Vicki L. Dihle, PA-C

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that appears around the same time each year. It affects people of all ages, though onset usually happens between ages 18 and 30. While SAD most commonly occurs in the winter, it can affect people at any time of the year. Symptoms often begin gradually and progressively worsen.

What Are The Symptoms?

  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Changes in mood
  • [Feelings of] Hopelessness or helplessness
  • Loss of interest in things that normally bring pleasure
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite -- often an increased craving for sugary or high carbohydrate foods
  • Weight gain [because of bullet above?]
  • Difficulty concentrating

Seasonal Affective Disorder 2

What Causes SAD?

The exact cause is unknown. Scientists suspect a genetic link in some cases. Changes in seasons and decreased light exposure may bring on a biochemical imbalance. Additional factors include:

  • Disruption of circadian rhythm (the body's "internal clock," which lets your body know when to sleep or awaken)
  • Changes in melatonin, a sleep-related hormone that has been linked to depression
  • Impaired regulation of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood

How Common Is It?

  • An estimated six out of every 100 people get SAD.
  • Prevalence varies by region; SAD is more common in people who live farther from the equator.
  • If affects more women than men, but men tend to have more severe symptoms.

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How Is It Treated?

Increased exposure to sunlight can be beneficial. Sitting under a special fluorescent lamp for 30 to 90 minutes per day (known as phototherapy) can have positive results. Other treatments include antidepressants and counseling. Non-medical interventions -- such as regular exercise, a well-balanced diet and time with friends may also be helpful.

What If I Suspect SAD In A Loved One?

Someone affected by SAD may not recognize the symptoms because of the gradual onset; a loved one, however, may notice them more easily. If you suspect SAD, schedule an appointment with a primary health-care provider. And be encouraged: SAD will dissipate with the new season, and effective treatments are available.

I hope you found this article on seasonal affective disorder (SAD) helpful and informative.

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