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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that only occurs during a certain time of the year, most often in the winter. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is commonly linked to negative and down feelings experienced in the winter, due to the stress of the holidays, cold, winter nights, and a number of other causes. Some people get seasonal affective disorder in the summer, though this is rare.

Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder

There isn’t a single cause of seasonal affective disorder or scientific proof why some people get the disorder and others don’t. However some people have risk factors for SAD including having another form of anxiety or depression, being a woman, living somewhere that gets long winter nights, and being a teen or young adult as it is more common during those ages. Keep in mind that even though it is more common in the winter, you can also get SAD during other seasons, such as during the summer months.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

The signs and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder tend to be the same as other forms of depression. They include the feeling of hopelessness, increased appetite alongside weight gain, needing more sleep, less energy, lack of concentration, loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, feeling sluggish, social withdrawal, irritability, and unhappiness. SAD can also lead to long-term depression or bipolar disorder so you should get treatment for SAD if you feel any of these symptoms.

Diagnosing Seasonal Affective Disorder

There isn’t currently any type of test for SAD, which is the same for anxiety or other forms of depression. Your doctor will ask about the signs and symptoms you are experiencing and go over your medical history. Occasionally, doctors perform certain blood tests or a physical exam to rule out other potential medical conditions or disorders that might be causing your combination of symptoms.

Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder

There are a variety of ways to treat SAD including things you can do at home as well as medications or professional help. Things to do at home to manage SAD include getting a proper amount of sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising more often, finding activities you enjoy, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and watching your signs and knowing when to get further help. You can also try light therapy which uses a very bright light that mimics light rays you get from the sun; it has been proven effective for SAD.
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