What is SAD?

When the weather gets dreary, it can affect your moods. Seasonal Affective Disorder (known by the appropriate acronym SAD) is a type of depression that correlates with the seasons, usually starting in late fall or early winter and ending during spring and summer.
SAD is a type of depression, not a separate disorder. To be diagnosed with SAD, a person must meet the criteria for major depression coinciding with seasons for at least two years. Symptoms of major depression include low energy, feeling depressed for a majority of the time, sleep problems, low interest in hobbies, difficulty concentrating and more. Symptoms specific to SAD include low energy, overeating, weight gain and social withdrawal. Risk factors for SAD include being female, living far from the equator, having depression or bipolar disorder, a family history of depression, or being a young adult.
Luckily, there are treatments for SAD. Medications such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and other antidepressants can help. Light therapy can be used to replace diminished sunshine during fall and winter. Some people have found that using a light box daily helped their symptoms. Therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, can help treat SAD through identifying and replacing negative thoughts, as well as seeking out activities to help cope. Some also believe that Vitamin D supplements can help.
If you’re feeling the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder this winter, talk to your doctor about your options.
Content by Lockton Dunning Benefits with info from:
National Institute of Mental Health