What is seasonal affective disorder? What are the symptoms, and should I see my doctor for this?

Seasonal affective disorder – often called SAD – is a type of depression that usually only happens in winter, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

People who are at risk of having SAD typically experience the symptoms during the fall and winter, when there is less sunlight, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

Symptoms of SAD, according to the NIH, include:

  • Hopelessness
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Increased sleep
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Irritability
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of interest in work and other activities
  • Sluggish movements
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unhappiness

Many people have some symptoms of SAD during fall and winter months, but not in an extreme enough form to be diagnosed with the disorder, according to the APA. People with a mild or moderate form of the symptoms of SAD could have something known as the “winter blues,” which is much more common.

If you think you are exhibiting symptoms of SAD and feel like the change of season is affecting you negatively, talk with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to help you determine if your symptoms are related to SAD or if there are other issues causing them.

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