Seasonal Affective Disorder

Author: Belinda Lin

Editors: Tharindi Jayatilake

Artists: Susan Wu

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a unique category of depression that occurs around the same time every year; it can consume all your energy, making you feel moody or depressed at times. Hallmark symptoms include feeling depressed all day, showing no interest in the activities you once loved, or experiencing drastic changes in diet or appetite. One of the most concerning symptoms of SAD is having frequent suicidal thoughts.

More SAD symptoms that appear in the fall and the winter include oversleeping, appetite changes, weight gain, or having no energy. Symptoms of SAD in the summer or spring months include: having trouble sleeping, poor appetite, weight loss, or anxiety. The symptoms of SAD are different when it comes to different seasons in a year as the majority of the population start having symptoms during the early fall and continue into the winter months. This should definitely not be taken as lightly, like something called “winter blues."

Having an unusual circadian rhythm and irregular sleep schedules can lead to the feeling of depression. A drop in serotonin (the “happy” hormone) levels can affect how neurotransmitters in the brain fire; therefore, leading to a depressing state. Melatonin (the “sleepy” hormone) levels can alternate from the different seasons, which can affect mood swings or sleeping patterns.

Surprisingly, SAD has been found to be genetic. People with SAD disorder have a higher chance of having blood relatives who are linked to depression. What is even more surprising is that sunlight plays a major role! People who live near the north or south poles have a drastically higher chance of getting SAD.

SAD can be fairly dangerous if not treated. The outcomes can be a whirlwind. People will break away from their social life, develop mental disorders, or eating disorders. Sometimes, there are cases where adults abuse substances as a coping mechanism. People start believing that suicide is a way to run away from their problems, but this is not it. It is hard to face things that you hate, or even things you want to give up. That’s why there is a treatment. Do not ever be afraid to reach out to the SAD Hotline.

Citations:

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/seasonal-

affective-disorder.

“Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Symptoms, Causes, Treatments.”

WebMD, WebMD, 12 Sept. 2020, www.webmd.com/depression/guide/seasonal-affective-

disorder.

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