Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs in a seasonal pattern, typically during fall and winter months when there is less sunlight. It is also known as winter depression or seasonal depression.
The exact cause of SAD is unknown, but it is thought to be related to changes in the body’s circadian rhythms, which are the internal clocks that regulate the sleep-wake cycle and other physiological functions. Reduced exposure to sunlight during the fall and winter months can disrupt these rhythms and lead to symptoms of SAD.
Symptoms of SAD can vary but may include:
- Depressed mood, sadness, and hopelessness
- Anxiety and irritability
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
- Loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
Treatment for SAD may include light therapy, which involves exposure to bright light that mimics natural sunlight, and medication such as antidepressants. Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and stress management techniques may also be helpful.
It’s important to note that SAD can also occur during the spring and summer months, although it is less common. In these cases, symptoms may include agitation, insomnia, and poor appetite.