Seasonal affective disorder: What is it? Symptoms, who is at risk?
Researchers are yet to find out the specific cause of SAD, but it is believed that several factors may increase your risk.
Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that some people experience in particular seasons of the year. The condition is widely known as 'winter depression or winter blues' because most people have serious mood change or depressive symptoms during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight.
Sometimes, it is also called 'summer depression or seasonal depression' although a few people experience SAD symptoms in the spring/summer season.
Researchers are yet to find out the specific cause of SAD, but it is believed that several factors may increase your risk. For instance, you're more likely to get SAD if -
- You're young and female.
- You have a family history of depression or have clinical depression or bipolar disorder.
- You live far from the equator.
Not everyone with SAD has the same symptoms, however, you may watch out for the following signs:
- Feeling sad or anxious.
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Feelings of hopelessness.
- Difficulty concentrating on or completing tasks.
- Changes in sleep – oversleeping or difficulty sleeping.
- Changes in appetite - overeating, especially a craving for carbohydrates, which leads to weight gain.
- Fatigue and decreased energy.
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities.
- Decreased sex drive.
- Suicidal thoughts or death.
While it's normal for all of us to feel sad or down at times, you should see a doctor if you feel down for days at a time and can't concentrate on tasks that you usually do or enjoy. Treatment for seasonal affective disorder may include light therapy, medications and psychotherapy.