What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder: What Is It?

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of major depression also known as winter depression. Those with SAD experience emotional changes and symptoms much like you would with depression. The severity and presence of symptoms can vary greatly, and the length of time that symptoms last vary from one person to the next.

The symptoms generally occur during the autumn and winter months when there isn’t enough sunlight to stimulate the body’s production of melatonin.

SAD Treatment

There are several treatment options available for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder. You may be given medications to deal with your symptoms. This can include antidepressants or mood stabilisers. Alternatively, you could try phototherapy, which makes use of special light sources such as fluorescent lamps. The treatments used in phototherapy aren’t recommended for long-term use, but in cases where a sudden worsening of your symptoms is present, they can help.

On occasions, a variety of different strategies might be required including talking therapy or counselling. Some sufferers of this condition might start to lose interest in activities they used to enjoy, experience changes in their sleep pattern or find that they are feeling more stressed than usual. Other changes include mood swings, memory lapses or forgetfulness. Other symptoms are difficult to identify and can include having symptoms of depression but not being aware of them.

Treatment Program

When it comes to sunlight, some people do find that their symptoms worsen depending on the amount of sunlight received. In this case, a treatment program should include a variety of different strategies to make sure you are getting the correct amount of natural sunlight. It might include changing your window coverings or even positioning the window to get more natural sunlight. Many people with seasonal affective disorder are able to benefit from a combination of different strategies.


Many people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder report feeling depressed during certain seasons. They may start to lose interest in activities they used to enjoy. As their mood changes, they may also start to experience memory lapses or forgetfulness. Other symptoms are extremely difficult to identify.

It is essential when experiencing these signs and symptoms to speak with your doctor to discuss the possible causes of your symptoms so that he or she can develop a treatment plan specifically for you and your needs.

Physical Issues

Seasonal affective disorder (sadness) has been linked to many physical illnesses, such as high blood pressure, digestive problems, insomnia and even cancer. While there isn’t enough evidence to link seasonal affective disorder (sadness) to an increased risk of cancer, many people with seasonal affective disorder do experience some type of cancer-related symptom. However, since depression is often linked to the physical symptoms, the connection isn’t exact. Researchers have found that, in women, the presence of seasonal affective disorder (seasonal depression) is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Speak to Your Doctor

In order to treat seasonal affective disorder (seasonal depression), your doctor may prescribe antidepressants or mood stabilisers. Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes including adjusting your diet, sleeping patterns, stress levels and daily routines. If your seasonal affective disorder is caused by your biological clock, changes to your daily routine should be enough to relieve your symptoms. However, sometimes your seasonal affective disorder is caused by your body’s inability to adjust to a changing environment. To help make sure that your body can handle seasonal changes, your doctor may prescribe certain medications to help boost your mood during this time.

Talk to a Counsellor

To learn more about seasonal affective disorder (SAD), it might help to speak with a Counsellor. Your Counsellor / Therapist will be able to give you the information you need to identify the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, as well as ways to treat them. Your counsellor may also be able to help you make lifestyle changes that will make it easier for you to cope with seasonal affective disorder.

Recognising Symptoms

There are a lot of symptoms associated with seasonal affective disorder, including feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability, fatigue and hopelessness. Each person experiences slightly different symptoms, so it’s important to remember that you don’t have to experience every single symptom with seasonal affective disorder. In fact, you may only experience a few of them. Even if you only experience a few seasonal affective disorder symptoms, the disorder can still be quite serious, even if it’s only for a short period of time.