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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)


Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a condition in which some people experience a significant mood change when the seasons change. SAD is not considered a separate disorder but is a type of depression.


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is triggered by changes in seasons. This form of depression usually occurs during the fall and winter months when there is less sunlight, and the days get shorter. SAD usually lifts during the spring and summer months.


Not everyone with SAD has the same symptoms, but they can include:

  • Sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Oversleeping
  • Overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”)
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of appetite
  • Irritability and agitation

Testing for SAD

Talk to your health care provider or mental health specialist if you are concerned and think you may be suffering from SAD.

Get Help

SAD may be effectively treated with a specific type of light therapy for many. Antidepressant medicines and talk therapy may also be needed reduce SAD symptoms, either alone or combined with light therapy. Additionally, vitamin D supplements may improve symptoms.

Learn how to talk about mental health to help you speak to a loved one who you may think is experiencing any mental health concerns.

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Last Updated
Last Updated: 04/24/2023
Last Updated