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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Symptoms: What You Need to Know

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Seasonal Affective disorder statistics

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression resulting from changing seasons. Every year, it begins and concludes around the same time. You feel lower energy levels and become irritable due to SAD symptoms, which start in the fall and last into the winter. In the spring and summer, these symptoms may disappear.

SAD is a form of depression that typically lasts 4 to 5 months yearly. As a result, in addition to depressive symptoms, SAD also has some peculiar symptoms that vary depending on the seasons. The treatment options for SAD include medication, psychotherapy, and bright light therapy (phototherapy).

About 10 million people in America experience the seasonal affective disorder, although many might not be aware of it. SAD strikes women much more commonly than it does men. 

People who live further north, where there are fewer hours of winter daylight, are more likely to experience it. You may also expect less sunlight from the sun. For instance, those who live in Alaska or New England may be more likely to develop SAD than people who live in Florida.

What’s Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression, is an outcome of the arrival of the fall season. The seasonal changes signal the onset and cessation of mental illness. People start to feel “down” when the shorter days of the fall and winter arrive. In the spring, when the days lengthen, they typically feel better.

A mood disorder can impact your feelings, thoughts, and day-to-day activities. You may have seasonal affective disorder if you frequently notice significant changes in your mood and behavior. 

Due to SAD’s depressive characteristics, it is also known as seasonal depression. A milder variation of SAD is the “winter blues,” while some melancholy is common during the winter. Full SAD goes above and beyond this. It affects your daily life, including how you feel and think, in contrast to the winter blues.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms

Early winter or late fall marks the onset of SAD symptoms, which last through the long days of spring and summer. People with the reverse pattern may suffer symptoms in the spring or summer. In any case, symptoms could start mild and worsen as the season progresses.

The symptoms of SAD are comparable to the symptoms of depression, except that they reoccur during a particular season of the year. Each person’s experience with SAD and its intensity is different. While some people may only experience mild symptoms, others may have serious ones that impact their everyday lives.

American Psychiatric Association has categorized SAD as a severe depressive disease with seasonal variations.

SAD symptoms include:

  • Loss of interest in daily life
  • Cravings for food
  • Overeating and weight gain
  • Having issues with concentration
  • Feelings of sadness or down for most of the day
  • Losing attention in activities you like
  • Feeling weak and lazy
  • Issues with sleeping patterns
  • An increasing sense of worthlessness or guilt
  • Negative thoughts about life
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts to commit suicide
  • Mysterious aches and pains
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Use of drugs or alcohol for comfort

The effects of SAD symptoms vary from person to person. These symptoms are similar to those of depression. The impact of SAD depends on genetic predisposition and geographic location. Most people experience mild symptoms at the beginning of the fall. The symptoms worsen in the coldest days of the winter.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms in Spring and Summer

Seasonal affective disorder with summer onset, also known as summer depression, may exist with the following symptoms:

  • Physical health issues
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Lower appetite
  • Continuous weight loss
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Irrational behavior

Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms in Fall and Winter

Winter depression symptoms that are particular to SAD include things like:

  • Heartbeat issues
  • Too much sleeping
  • Continuous changes in appetite, particularly a desire for food
  • Weight gain
  • Lower energy levels or
  • Continuous fatigue

You must experience these symptoms for two consecutive years before getting clinical trials for seasonal affective disorder. If you are experiencing depressive disorder symptoms, it’s time to get assistance from your doctor. You should consult your doctor because depression affects you, irrespective of how long or when your symptoms have been present.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptom Experiences of Patients

People with SAD may experience the end of major depressive disorder symptoms by the start of spring. For most people, summer and spring seasons are more comfortable than fall and winter. 

Compared to the depressed phase in the fall and winter, people saw summer and spring as constructive opposites and felt much better in the summer.

One group could resist negative feelings of a subsequent depressive episode throughout the summer. The other group was continuously concerned about new depressive disorder symptoms prospects. This phenomenon damaged their quality of life throughout symptom-free periods, particularly in the late summer.

All the patients who had gone through major depression episodes last winters were already afraid of experiencing another episode this summer. Some people noticed signs of imminent depression with the onset of a fall, such as tiredness or a lack of enthusiasm. Seasonal affective disorder symptoms may vary from person to person; it exists in some form in changing seasons.

Ask Your Doctor

Seasonal affective disorder is the result of seasonal changes. You may experience depressive feelings occasionally in the changing seasons. It is normal to feel sadness in such a condition. But if you continuously think unhappy and lack the will to involve in daily life activities, speak with your health care provider. 

This is particularly critical if your cravings and sleep patterns have changed. You are using alcohol for comfort if you feel hopeless or consider suicide.

Your healthcare provider may suggest the medications based on your mental health conditions. The effective treatment options help resist SAD symptoms. There are four different options to treat SAD.

These options include:

  • Light therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Antidepressant medicines
  • Vitamin D

Frequently Asked Questions

How common is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal affective disorder symptoms start in the fall and last throughout the winter. Winter depression, a type of SAD, is an outcome of chronic depression. A medical professional treats seasonal affective disorder in a variety of ways.According to American Psychiatric Association, SAD affects 5 percent of adults in the United States. It typically begins in young people between the age of 18 and 30. SAD affects women more than it does men. A less severe type of winter blues affects 10 percent to 20 percent of Americans.

Can people get seasonal affective disorder in the summer?

A form of major depressive episode, SAD, comes on and goes off during seasonal changes. Steady episodes of depression, increased appetite with a yearning for carbohydrates, and hypersomnia are the symptoms of winter depression.Summer depression is a rare form of SAD that affects some people. Its symptoms appear in the late spring or early summer months and end in the fall. Summer depression occurs less frequently than a winter-specific seasonal affective disorder.

Who is most affected by seasonal affective disorder?

Major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern is also a seasonal affective disorder. This type of depression is the result of seasonal changes. The early fall or winter months are usually when SAD symptoms first appear.More commonly, SAD affects women more than it does men. Most people use medication, therapy, or a combination to treat SAD. Without a proper action strategy, SAD can last for a long time. Most clinically depressed patients who seek treatment see improvement, typically within weeks.

What can you do to avoid seasonal affective disorder?

SAD is more common in people with bipolar disorder. Mania episodes in some bipolar patients have a direct link to a specific season. For example, summer and spring trigger mania symptoms or milder mania. They could also go through episodes of depression in the fall and winter.It would help if you got the sleep you need to feel refreshed, but oversleeping is not a good idea. Take part in a regular exercise program or another type of physical activity to keep fit. Make healthy selections for both meals and snacks. These activities can help you to avoid seasonal affective disorder.

Get Help from The Recovery Team to Resist Seasonal Depression

A form of sadness called seasonal affective disorder results from seasonal changes. Before disappearing in the brighter spring days, this seasonal depression develops stronger in the late fall. 

It’s normal to feel a little sad during the colder months, and you can also get a mild form of SAD known as the `winter blues. But if you are experiencing the symptoms continuously, consult your doctor. The Recovery team is here to assist you.

We offer services to treat alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and behavioral disorders. Our medical staff is capable of assessing your mental health effects. Take your first step to resisting depression before it’s too late.

Contact us today at (800) 817-1247.