About half a million people in the U.S. suffer from Season Affective Disorder (SAD), with women making up three-fourths of the affected population. SAD is type of depression that occurs mostly during fall and winter months, with less frequency in the spring and summer months. Due to the summer months being warmer and having longer days of daylight, SAD occur less often in places with warmer climates. Those who live further from the equator are more affected by SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder treatments often include using medication or light therapy.
It is unknown the exact cause of SAD, but evidence suggests that it could be due to the lack of sunlight for some patients. When someone has less exposure to natural sunlight, it can change the internal biological clock that regulates sleep patterns and hormones. Another theory is that, those who suffer from SAD have a different chemical makeup in their brain—but that chemical makeup can be changed with some light exposure.
SAD symptoms are similar to what you may experience with major depression symptoms. This may include:
- Sad, depressed moods
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Difficulty focusing
- Lack of energy
- Changes in sleep
- Changes in eating
- Loss of pleasure in activities you use to love
- Thoughts of death and suicide
Those who suffer from SAD in the winter may also suffer from heaviness in the arms and legs, cravings for high-carb foods, and/or relationship issues.
SAD usually fades away when the warmer months come, bringing with them some sunshine. However, there are a lot of different types of Season Affective Disorder treatments that can help you feel better faster, with some treatments that may even prevent SAD from returning again.
Some options are: