Mental Health

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Some people suffer from symptoms of depression during the winter months, with symptoms subsiding during the spring and summer months. These symptoms may be a sign of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a mood disorder associated with depression and related to seasonal variations of light. SAD affects half a million people every winter between September and April, peaking in December, January, and February. The “Winter Blues,” a milder form of SAD, may affect even more people.

Prevalence

  • Three out of four SAD sufferers are women.
  • The main age of onset of SAD is between 18 and 30 years of age.
  • SAD occurs in both the northern and southern hemispheres, but is extremely rare in those living within 30 degrees latitude of the equator.
  • The severity of SAD depends both on a person’s vulnerability to the disorder and his or her geographical location.
  • Some people suffer from symptoms of depression during the winter months, with symptoms subsiding during the spring and summer months. These symptoms may be a sign of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a mood disorder associated with depression and related to seasonal variations of light. SAD affects half a million people every winter between September and April, peaking in December, January, and February. The “Winter Blues,” a milder form of SAD, may affect even more people.

    Prevalence

  • Three out of four SAD sufferers are women.
  • The main age of onset of SAD is between 18 and 30 years of age.
  • SAD occurs in both the northern and southern hemispheres, but is extremely rare in those living within 30 degrees latitude of the equator.
  • The severity of SAD depends both on a person’s vulnerability to the disorder and his or her geographical location.
  • Symptoms A diagnosis of SAD can be made after three consecutive winters of the following symptoms if they are also followed by complete remission of symptoms in the spring and summer months:

  • Depression: misery, guilt, loss of self-esteem, hopelessness, despair, and apathy
  • Anxiety: tension and inability to tolerate stress
  • Mood changes: extremes of mood and, in some, periods of mania in spring and summer
  • Sleep problems: desire to oversleep and difficulty staying awake or, sometimes, disturbed sleep and early morning waking
  • Lethargy: feeling of fatigue and inability to carry out normal routine
  • Overeating: craving for starchy and sweet foods resulting in weight gain
  • Social problems: irritability and desire to avoid social contact
  • Sexual problems: loss of libido and decreased interest in physical contact
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