Feeling SAD? Here's What You Need to Know

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is serious but can be treated

(RxWiki News) When the temperature and the time change, a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) sets in for many people. But you don't have to wait for the summer to stop feeling SAD.

Read on to learn more about SAD and what you can do about it.

What Is SAD?

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression. It recurs with a seasonal pattern that typically begins when the fall and winter months set in. By the time the warmer months of spring and summer roll around, symptoms of SAD tend to subside.

This disorder tends to affect people who live farther away from the equator and those who have a family or personal history of depression.

SAD is not simply the "winter blues." It is a mental health condition that can have serious effects on people who have it.

How Do I Know if I Have SAD?

If you typically feel depressed when the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, you may have SAD. Here are some SAD symptoms to watch for, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Feeling worthless, guilty or hopeless
  • Feeling depressed for most of the day on most days
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Losing interest in things and activities you once enjoyed
  • Feeling agitated or sluggish
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Having changes in your weight or appetite
  • Thinking about suicide or death frequently (Seek immediate medical care if you are experiencing this symptom.)

If you are having any of the above symptoms, reach out to your health care provider to discuss your condition and possible treatments.

What Are the Treatments for SAD?

SAD affects countless people around the world every year. Fortunately, there are effective treatments for this disorder.

Possible treatments for SAD include the following, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health:

  • Medications – Medications that are used to treat general depression may be used to treat SAD. These include antidepressants like bupropion and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
  • Psychotherapy – A type of cognitive behavioral therapy adapted for SAD treatment is sometimes used. This therapy seeks to change and challenge unhelpful thoughts and behaviors.
  • Light therapy – In light therapy, bright artificial light is used in sessions in order to replace the sunlight exposure lost when the winter months set in.
  • Dietary supplements – Vitamin D supplementation is sometimes used in SAD treatment, although dietary supplements have not been thoroughly studied as treatments for this condition. Many people with SAD also have low levels of vitamin D, which is produced through exposure to sunlight.

Talk to your health care provider about which SAD treatment will work best for you or your loved one.