Seasonal Affective Disorder

Everyone looks forward to the changes of the season. Leaves become red, snow starts to fall, and hot chocolate is on the way. However, seasonal changes can also affect your mood negatively. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that happens because of seasonal changes. It mostly occurs in the start of fall, and carries into winter, and may continue into summer and spring. This article will inform you about SAD and how you can get help today.

Signs and Symptoms of SAD

Season affective disorder usually occurs at the beginning of fall and prevalent during winter. Summer and spring are more sunny, where signs may reduce, but not always.
Signs may include:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lethargy
  • Sleep issues
  • Long periods of depression
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Annoyed
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities

People with Bipolar Disorder Prone to SAD

Those diagnosed with bipolar disorder experience mania and depression. Those with bipolar and SAD may experience mania in the season with the most sunlight, such as summer and spring. However, depression may occur during the fall and winter.

Factors that Cause SAD

SAD is a bit of a mystery, but some factors that may cause SAD include:

  • Serotonin: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that affects a person’s mood. Sunlight elevates people’s mood and serotonin. SAD occurs mostly in winter, where there is less sunlight. As a result, depression may occur because serotonin levels have decreased. 
  • Circadian rhythm: A person’s internal clock may be disturbed due to the less sunlight, throwing off their schedule.

Melatonin: The balance of a person’s melatonin levels may be impacted by the changes of the seasons.  Are You At-Risk?

Age and gender may impact your risk of getting SAD. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with SAD and young adults. Other factors may include:

  • Geographical Location: Areas further away from the equator are susceptible to SAD due to less sunlight.  
  • DNA: If it’s in your genetics, you may be at risk for SAD.
  • Mental disorder: Being diagnosed with other mental disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder may increase your risk.

The Results of SAD

If a person fails to get proper treatment for SAD, the following may occur:

  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Misusing and abusing drugs
  • Grades dropping; lack of focus at work
  • Loneliness; seclusion from others
  • Anxiety or eating disorders

Contact Us Today!

Don’t let SAD make you sad. Knowing the signs to look out for will increase your awareness this winter. If you would like more information or are seeking help for seasonal affective disorder, contact us today at 508.990.1900


3700 Cahaba Beach Road Birmingham, AL 35242

Our Mission and Values:

Our mission is to provide the best healthcare possible in a kind and caring environment, in an economical manner, while respecting the rights of all of our patients, at times and locations convenient to the patient.

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