Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Symptoms and Treatments

Do the shorter, darker days of winter leave you feeling tired, listless, or downright depressed? While everyone might feel a touch of the winter blues now and then, others experience serious bouts of depression during the winter months known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Those suffering from SAD often feel depressed, irritable, and fatigued. In most cases, patients are treated with a combination of light therapy and anti-depressants, but research has also found that cognitive-behavioral approaches may be effective when treating seasonal depression.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Seasonal Depression - Those affected by seasonal affective disorder experience seasonal depression that usually begins in late fall or early winter.
  • Fatigue - Sufferers often suffer extreme fatigue and irritability.
  • Food Cravings - Many individuals crave sweet or starchy foods and often gain weight as a result.
  • Social Avoidance - Those with SAD often avoid social situations and may feel more sensitive to criticism and social rejection.

Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Light Therapy - Because SAD is thought to be caused by lack of sunlight, light therapy is often an effective treatment approach.
  • Light Boxes - Individuals using light therapy may use a specially made light box to increase exposure to light and reduce symptoms and depression.
  • Medication - Some patients benefit from the use psychiatric drugs, such as antidepressants, in combination with light therapy.
  • Therapy - Researchers have also found that cognitive-behavioral therapy may also be beneficial to those suffering from seasonal affective disorder.

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