Symptoms
 
 
The symptoms of SAD recur regularly each winter and usually start between September and November, continuing until March or April
 
Diagnosis can usually be made after 3 or more consecutive winters of symptoms.
 
 
Long periods of sunless skies at other times may also trigger episodes for some people.
 
 
Light passes through the eye to the hypothalamus, a part of the brain which controls a wide range of functions.
 
 
So symptoms may include a number of the following:
 
 
DEPRESSION
 
SLEEP PROBLEMS
 
 
Low mood
 
 
The need to sleep more
 
Negative thoughts and feelings
 
Oversleeping or difficulty staying awake during the day
 
Guilt and loss of self-esteem
 
Disturbed sleep patterns and/or early morning awakening
 
Apathy
 
Insomnia
 
 
 
 
 
LETHARGY
 
OVEREATING
 
 
Fatigue
 
 
Increased desire for carbohydrates to boost mood
 
 
 
Weight gain
 
 
 
 
 
POOR COGNITIVE FUNCTION
 
SOCIAL PROBLEMS
 
 
Difficulty concentrating
 
 
Increased irritability
 
Brain does not work as efficiently
 
Finding it harder to be with people
 
 
 
 
 
ANXIETY
 
LOSS OF LIBIDO
 
 
Feelings of tension
 
 
Reduced interest in sex
 
Inability to deal with stress
 
Reduced interest in physical contact
 
 
 
 
 
WINTER ILLNESSES
 
ALTERED MOOD IN SPRING (MAY VARY)
 
 
Lowered immune system in winter
 
 
Sudden lift in mood
 
More vulnerability to infections
 
Agitation/Restlessness
 
 
 
Short periods of hypomania (over-activity)
 
 
 
Gradual loss of winter symptoms
 
 
 
 
 
In WINTER BLUES, lethargy, sleep and eating problems occur, but depression and anxiety are absent or mild.
 
SAD can begin at any age and may be triggered by other factors such as illness, childbirth or change of environment.
 
It occurs throughout the northern and southern hemispheres but is very rare within 30 degrees of the Equator.
 
Some individuals may experience Summer (or Reverse) SAD and are affected by heat rather than light.
 
The symptoms of this are anxiety, poor sleep, weight loss and agitation - and it is a much rarer condition.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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The Seasonal Affective Disorder Association
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