Thursday, February 25, 2016

Depression Awareness: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Hello Everyone!

Since I received a lot of positive feedback on my Depression Awareness Series I started last year, I thought it would be a good idea to continue  to write a few of these posts this year as well. If you read my first Depression Awareness post last year (see my links at the end of the post) you may remember that I shared with my personal experiences with Clinical Depression. Today I wanted share some information about a condition that is closely related to depression that is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD.

Here is some information that I gathered from about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

What is Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.

Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications.
Don't brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the "winter blues" or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.


In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. However, some people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer. In either case, symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.

Fall and Winter SAD

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

Treatments and Medication

Treatment for seasonal affective disorder may include light therapy, medications and psychotherapy. If you have bipolar disorder, tell your doctor — this is critical to know when prescribing light therapy or an antidepressant. Both treatments can potentially trigger a manic episode.

- Light therapy

In light therapy, also called phototherapy, you sit a few feet from a special light therapy box so that you're exposed to bright light. Light therapy mimics natural outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood.
Light therapy is one of the first line treatments for fall-onset SAD. It generally starts working in a few days to two weeks and causes few side effects. Research on light therapy is limited, but it appears to be effective for most people in relieving SAD symptoms.
Before you purchase a light therapy box, talk with your doctor about the best one for you, and familiarize yourself with the variety of features and options so that you buy a high-quality product that's safe and effective.

- Medications

Some people with SAD benefit from antidepressant treatment, especially if symptoms are severe.
An extended-release version of the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin XL, Aplenzin) may help prevent depressive episodes in people with a history of SAD. Other antidepressants also may commonly be used to treat SAD.
Your doctor may recommend starting treatment with an antidepressant before your symptoms typically begin each year. He or she may also recommend that you continue to take the antidepressant beyond the time your symptoms normally go away.
Keep in mind that it may take several weeks to notice full benefits from an antidepressant. In addition, you may have to try different medications before you find one that works well for you and has the fewest side effects.

- Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is another option to treat SAD. Psychotherapy can help you:
  • Identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that may be making you feel worse
  • Learn healthy ways to cope with SAD
  • Learn how to manage stress

I don't suffer from SAD, but just like any other mental health issue this is a real condition. I can imagine how SAD could alter someone mood especially if you have already have a pre-existing depression condition and living in an environment where the sun isn't doesn't shine very often etc. I know there are more risk factors and causes for SAD, but I can see why light therapy is an important factor to decrease SAD symptoms.  I'm not a health professional, but if you think you or anyone you is experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder, please see a physician.

If you would like to read more about Seasonal Affective Disorder here is the link once again

Here are the links to my previous Depression Awareness Posts:

Depression Awareness: My Story (February 2015)

Depression Awareness: Counseling, Is It Worth a Try? (April 2015)

Depression Awareness: What Depression Feels Like (June 2015)

Depression Awareness: Suicide Prevention (August 2015)

October is Depression Awareness Month (October 2015)

Thanks for stopping by my blog!


Marie said...

I'm glad you wrote this post. I think some people are unaware that SAD is a medical condition. Thanks for shedding light on this mental health issue!

Jackie Harrison said...

This is helpful information to get people to understand SAD and to who has it will help them get help and talk about it. Great post.

Unknown said...

This is a gray post Pilar, and I love how you included so much information too!! I definitely notice people's moods are different in the winter time. We don't see a lot of sun in the winter where I live so I can see how easily SAD could happen. That light therapy sounds so interesting!

Beauty Unearthly said...

Really interesting post...thx for sharing! xx

Pilar said...

You're welcome! I don't hear too much about SAD, and that was my primary reason for wanting to bring attention to this issue.

Pilar said...

Thanks! I thought that sharing this information would be helpful to others!

Pilar said...

Thanks! I wanted to provide detailed information about SAD so people will know more about the condition. I think that light is very important! It's moderately sunny here during the Winter, but I could see how light therapy could be beneficial to people dealing with SAD.

Pilar said...

Thanks and you're welcome!

Elle Sees said...

i totally believe this is a real thing! the light therapy helps.

Pilar said...

Before I knew this was a condition, I used to wonder why some people seemed depressed more during the Winter.

willsingformakeup said...

I can tell a change in my own moods during the winter months. If the weather is particularly dreary, then it's even worse. Thanks for sharing more information about this!

Pilar said...

You're welcome! I think sometimes the whether does affect our mood, but it's so important to recognize signs of possibly having SAD.

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