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
- 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.
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.
- If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.
- To learn how to get support for mental health, drug, and alcohol issues, visit FindSupport.gov.
- To locate treatment facilities or providers, visit FindTreatment.gov or call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357).
- Mental Health Treatment Works
- Living Well with Major Depressive Disorder
- National Institute of Mental Health: Seasonal Affective Disorder
- National Institute of Mental Health: Psychotherapies
- National Library of Medicine: Seasonal Affective Disorder
- American Addiction Centers: Seasonal Affective Disorder