Seasonal Affective Disorder

Reviewed Jun 30, 2018

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Summary

SAD is a mood disorder related to the season or time of the year.

People with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have mood issues linked to a season or time of year. Most people with SAD have symptoms in late fall or early winter, but some have them in late spring or early summer.

Causes

SAD has to do with the effect of seasonal light change. Over the course of a year, the patterns and amount of available sunlight changes. This causes changes in people’s circadian rhythms, or “biological clocks.”

Melatonin has been linked to SAD. Melatonin is a hormone secreted in the brain that may be linked to low mood. More melatonin is made the more a person spends time in the dark.

Symptoms

  • Decreased hunger, or more of a taste for sweets, carbs, or starches
  • Weight loss or weight gain not due to other health reasons
  • Sleeping more or sleeping less
  • Feeling tired most of the day
  • A drop in energy level
  • A change in activity level
  • Trouble thinking, focusing, or making choices
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

Treatment

  • Light therapy
  • Medications
  • Counseling
By Chris E. Stout, Psy.D., M.B.A.
Reviewed by Philip Merideth, M.D., J.D., Physician Advisor, Beacon Health Options

Summary

SAD is a mood disorder related to the season or time of the year.

People with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have mood issues linked to a season or time of year. Most people with SAD have symptoms in late fall or early winter, but some have them in late spring or early summer.

Causes

SAD has to do with the effect of seasonal light change. Over the course of a year, the patterns and amount of available sunlight changes. This causes changes in people’s circadian rhythms, or “biological clocks.”

Melatonin has been linked to SAD. Melatonin is a hormone secreted in the brain that may be linked to low mood. More melatonin is made the more a person spends time in the dark.

Symptoms

  • Decreased hunger, or more of a taste for sweets, carbs, or starches
  • Weight loss or weight gain not due to other health reasons
  • Sleeping more or sleeping less
  • Feeling tired most of the day
  • A drop in energy level
  • A change in activity level
  • Trouble thinking, focusing, or making choices
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

Treatment

  • Light therapy
  • Medications
  • Counseling
By Chris E. Stout, Psy.D., M.B.A.
Reviewed by Philip Merideth, M.D., J.D., Physician Advisor, Beacon Health Options

Summary

SAD is a mood disorder related to the season or time of the year.

People with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have mood issues linked to a season or time of year. Most people with SAD have symptoms in late fall or early winter, but some have them in late spring or early summer.

Causes

SAD has to do with the effect of seasonal light change. Over the course of a year, the patterns and amount of available sunlight changes. This causes changes in people’s circadian rhythms, or “biological clocks.”

Melatonin has been linked to SAD. Melatonin is a hormone secreted in the brain that may be linked to low mood. More melatonin is made the more a person spends time in the dark.

Symptoms

  • Decreased hunger, or more of a taste for sweets, carbs, or starches
  • Weight loss or weight gain not due to other health reasons
  • Sleeping more or sleeping less
  • Feeling tired most of the day
  • A drop in energy level
  • A change in activity level
  • Trouble thinking, focusing, or making choices
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

Treatment

  • Light therapy
  • Medications
  • Counseling
By Chris E. Stout, Psy.D., M.B.A.
Reviewed by Philip Merideth, M.D., J.D., Physician Advisor, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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