Seasonal Affective Disorder: Winter Blues

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a subtype of major depression that comes and goes based on seasons. SAD typically begins to affect people as early as September as fall develops and can continue on through early April. There is also an opposite pattern where seasonal affective disorder symptoms begin in the spring or summer. No matter when the seasonal pattern begins, the symptoms start out mild and become more and more disruptive as the season continues.

Statistics of Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD affects an estimated 10 million Americans, with another 2-million who have mild seasonal affective disorder. SAD is about four times more common in women than men. While people of all ages can develop seasonal affective disorder, the average age when this illness first develops is 23 years of age.

SAD and Major Depression

Since seasonal affective disorder is a subtype of major depression that tends to “follow the seasons,” the symptoms of major depression that may also be a part of SAD include:

  • Being depressed most of the day, generally most every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated, having low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Fall and Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder

Winter onset SAD is also called winter depression. Symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue, tiredness
  • Crying spells
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Body aches
  • Irritability and problems getting along with others
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling like your body is weighing you down
  • Overeating and weight gain with cravings for carbohydrates
  • Being hypersensitive to rejection or criticism

Spring and Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder

Summer onset SAD is sometimes called summer depression. Symptoms reported for this subtype of major depression include:

  • Insomnia
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Irritability, agitation, or anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression
  • Crying spells

Seasonal Affective Disorder Help 

Feeling “blue” can happen to anyone, however, if you find your “blue” day extending into a longer period of time with other symptoms mentioned above, it could very well be time to seek out help from a qualified mental health professional.

Dr. Hege, an Atlanta based seasonal affective disorder psychiatrist is just a phone call away from the help you need. Put an end to SAD and call the office today.

About Darvin Hege

Dr. Darvin Hege, MD, PC, is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is an Emory Hospital residency trained psychiatrist who has been practicing psychiatry for more than 25 years. He maintains over 50 hours of AMA certified education each year to stay informed of advances in psychiatry.

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