Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year, usually in the fall and winter. It’s a form of major depressive disorder (MDD) with a seasonal pattern.
There are different types of SAD, including:
- Winter-onset SAD, which is the most common type and is characterized by symptoms that begin in the fall and continue into the winter months.
- Summer-onset SAD, which is less common and is characterized by symptoms that begin in the spring or early summer and continue into the summer months.
The causes of SAD are not fully understood, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Some studies suggest that SAD may be related to abnormal brain function, which makes it difficult for a person to regulate their mood and circadian rhythm.
Symptoms of SAD can include:
- Depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness and sadness
- Loss of interest in activities
- Low energy and fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide
Diagnosis of SAD is typically made by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist, through a combination of a clinical interview, a review of the person’s symptoms, and a review of the person’s medical history.
Treatment options for SAD include:
- Light therapy, which is a type of therapy that involves exposure to bright light, usually provided by a light box, to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm and improve mood.
- Medication, such as antidepressants, to help with symptoms of depression
- Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, to help a person learn how to manage their symptoms and improve their mood
- Supportive services, such as case management and vocational rehabilitation, to help a person with SAD lead a more independent life
It’s important to note that SAD is a treatable condition and that with the right treatment, many people with SAD are able to lead fulfilling lives. It’s important to seek professional help if you suspect that you or a loved one might have SAD as it can have a significant impact on the person’s well-being.
For further support and information please book an appointment with our specialists….
To learn more about SAD, please click on https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/
Dr Ibrahim Yahli MD MRCPsych