Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.
SAD is a type of major depressive disorder, and sufferers may exhibit any of the associated symptoms, such as feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, thoughts of suicide, loss of interest in activities, withdrawal from social interaction, sleep and appetite problems, difficulty with concentration and decisions, decreased sex drive, a lack of energy, or agitation.
Symptoms of winter SAD often include oversleeping or difficulty waking up in the morning, nausea, and a tendency to over eat, often with a craving for carbohydrates, which leads to weight gain. SAD is typically associated with winter depression, but springtime lethargy or other seasonal mood patterns are not uncommon. Although each individual case is different, in contrast to winter SAD, people who experience spring and summer depression may be more likely to show symptoms such as insomnia, decreased appetite and weight loss, and agitation or anxiety.
As someone who has suffered from depression, it is important to take SAD seriously and follow the steps listed above.