What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Winter is around the corner and with it comes colder temperatures, shorter days, and, for some people, depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that comes and goes with the seasons. SAD typically starts in the late fall and early winter and ends during spring and summer. Although less common, for some the pattern is reversed with depression recurring in the spring or summer.
SAD versus major depression… What’s the difference?
The short answer: nothing except for the pattern. SAD is not considered a separate disorder. It is a type of depression characterized by a recurrent seasonal pattern. In order for a patient to be diagnosed with SAD, they must meet criteria for major depression and have them coincide with specific seasons for a minimum of two years.
Symptoms of major depression including SAD:
- Feeling sad, tearful, empty or hopeless
- Feeling agitated or irritable even with minor inconveniences
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having sleep problems such as difficulty sleeping through the night, difficulty falling asleep, or sleeping too much
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings and weight gain
- Feeling sluggish or having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling worthless; focusing too much on past-failures
- Frequent thoughts about death or suicide
Specific symptoms of Winter Pattern SAD:
- Low energy
- Eating and sleeping too much
- Lack of social interaction (feel like hibernating)
Specific symptoms of the less common Summer Pattern SAD:
- Poor appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritation, anxiety
- Violent behavior
Recognizing the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder can be the first step toward the prevention of worsening depression. If you think you might have SAD, or you are not feeling like your usual self, speaking with a professional can be a great way to get to the bottom of what is affecting you. Treatment for SAD may include medication, vitamin D supplements, and light therapy, or something as simple as aerobic exercise and getting quality sleep.
Seeking treatment for mental health issues may seem scary or off-putting, but Unicare Medical Center is here to help ease your burden. Our specialists provide the utmost care and empathy for all patients, and look forward to helping anyone who needs assistance. Should you experience any of the symptoms described above, please do not hesitate to book an appointment for an evaluation.
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