December is Seasonal Affective Disorder Month



What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?


SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. For most people with SAD depression usually starts around the end of fall and into the winter. However, some people might experience SAD during spring and summer months.

 What are the Symptoms of SAD?



For the fall/winter months symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Loss of Energy
  • Oversleeping
  • Weight Gain
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Hopelessness
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Loss of Interest
  • Change in Appetite

For the spring/summer months symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Poor Appetite
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Weight Loss
  • Increased Sex        Drive




What Causes SAD?


The specific causes of SAD are not known. Genetics, age, and your body’s chemical make up most likely play a role. More specifically your biological clock, serotonin levels, and melatonin levels most likely are responsible. Your biological clock may be affected due to the changes in time of sun set and sun rise which can lead to a feeling of depression. A drop in serotonin levels can be caused by a reduction in sun light which can lead to mood changes. Sleep patteners and mood swings may also be affected by a change in melatonin levels that can affects by the change of seasons.

What are the Risk Factors of SAD?


Risk factors include:

  • Being Female
  • Family History
  • Having Clinical Depression or Bipolar Disorder
  • Living Far from the Equator

How are you Diagnosed?


Your doctor can diagnose you with SAD depending on your response tou several detailed questions and a physical exam. These details questions would include questions about your changes in mood, thoughts and behavior; sleeping and eating habits; as well as questions about yourpersonal and professional relationships. Medical tests are not usually performed unless the doctor suspects that a certain condition is causing your depression.

What is the Treatment for SAD?


You andh your doctor should discuss the best treatment for you. Some treatments may include light therapy, medications, psychotherapy or a combination of them. There are also several lifestyle and home remedies you can do to help treat your SAD. Making your environment brighter or sunnier, exercising regularly and getting outside are just a fewexamples of changes a person can make. Supplements may also be included into your treatment, such as St John’s wart, SAMe, Melatonin, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Do not take these supplement without discussing them with your doctor first as they can cause complications if you have certain diseases.


**It is best to see your primary care physician regularly in order to prevent and treat seasonal affective disorder! Please call 773-702-0660 to make an appointment at Friend Family Health Center.**

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