Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Dr. Ayush PandeyMBBS,PG Diploma

January 05, 2019

March 06, 2020

Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder

What is seasonal affective disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, as the name suggests, is a depressive disorder that occurs due to seasonal changes. Since it occurs mostly around the winter, it is also known as ‘winter depression or winter blues’. It usually begins in late fall and ends at the beginning of winter. In the summer, the incidence is less. It is found to be higher in women, young teens and people living away from the equator. The prevalence was found to be in the range of 0%-6.9% as obtained from retrospective studies.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

Symptoms are found to be similar to the non-seasonal type of depression. The major symptoms of SAD include:

  • Major depression
  • Sadness all time
  • Negative thoughts
  • Lack of energy
  • Cravings for foods with high carbs
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty in concentrating

In SAD that affects during the winter, the following pattern of symptoms is observed:

  • Lack of energy
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Increased appetite
  • Staying away from people

What are the main causes?

The cause behind SAD is not clear. Genetic abnormalities may contribute to the seasonal affective disorder.

Risk factors include:

  • Women are four times at risk of experiencing this disorder as compared to men
  • People living near the north or south poles have an increased probability of developing this condition
  • Those with a family history of SAD seem to be prone to the condition
  • Younger individuals are affected more than older people
  • Deficiency of vitamin D may result in depressive episodes

How is it diagnosed and treated?

SAD may be diagnosed by observing for depressive symptoms and must meet all the criteria for depressive disorders. A questionnaire may be used to analyse the mental health of the patient.

The most prevalent method of treatment for SAD is light therapy. This therapy is recommended daily for effective results and must be performed under the guidance of an expert specialised in mental health. The next method is the use of anti-depressive drugs to take care of symptoms and provide long-term benefit. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may be used to observe thought processes and provide positive thoughts. Vitamin D supplements may be given.

SAD is a type of depressive disorder that may be taken care of easily as it is triggered by seasonal change. Prompt identification may help in early recovery.



  1. National Institute of Mental Health [Internet] Bethesda, MD; Seasonal Affective Disorder. National Institutes of Health; Bethesda, Maryland, United States
  2. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Seasonal Affective Disorder
  3. American Psychological Association [internet] St. NE, Washington, DC. Seasonal Affective Disorder Sufferers Have More Than Just Winter Blues.
  4. National Institutes of Health; [Internet]. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Seasonal affective disorder
  5. Mental Health. Seasonal Affective Disorder. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Washington, D.C. [Internet]

Medicines for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Medicines listed below are available for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Please note that you should not take any medicines without doctor consultation. Taking any medicine without doctor's consultation can cause serious problems.

Medicine Name




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