Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)


What is SAD? 


Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of clinical depression that usually occurs during winter and fall each year. However, it is possible to experience symptoms of SAD in the summer as well. Here, we will provide a brief overview of SAD’s potential causes, symptoms and treatment options!


What Triggers SAD?


Researchers are yet to find the exact causes of SAD; However, insufficient exposure to sunlight may be associated with triggering SAD in some ways. Inadequate sun exposure can cause:

  • Imbalance of chemicals in the brain known as neurotransmitters, such as serotonin
  • Excess production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle
  • Low levels of Vitamin D 


What Are Some of the Symptoms? 


Although some symptoms are more common among individuals who experience SAD, it is important to remember that each person might experience it differently. Moreover, experiencing these symptoms does not necessarily mean you are experiencing SAD. Mental Health professionals and doctors use a set of physical and psychological evaluations to diagnose SAD and recommend a treatment option. 


Some of these symptoms include:

  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Trouble focusing on tasks
  • Loss of interest in school, daily activities or hobbies 
  • Tearfulness, irritability and fatigue
  • Withdrawal from friends, families and social situations

What Are Some of the Treatment Options?


. There are a variety of available options to treat SAD. Some of these include:

  • Light therapy: Exposure to artificial light is a safe treatment. Check out the link below by UBC Mood Disorders Centre to learn more about light therapy as well as where you can purchase a light therapy device: 
  • Various forms of therapy: Cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal therapy alone or alongside light therapy or medication
  • Medications: Your doctor might consider prescribing antidepressants to improve symptoms


Make sure to check out this video to learn more SAD: