Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to changes in the season, usually relating to a decrease in sun exposure during the winter months.

Your internal clock (circadian rhythm) may be disrupted by the decrease in sunlight. Serotonin drops when there is a reduction in sunlight, this can cause depression. Melatonin is also affected by this change in sunlight and therefore sleep can also be disrupted.

The most common signs/symptoms include feeling depressed, losing interest in things you once enjoyed, low energy, sleep disturbances, changes in weight, changes in appetite, feelings of hopelessness and in severe cases having thoughts of death or suicide.

If SAD is left untreated it can lead to further problems such as social withdrawal, substance abuse, worsening other mental disorders or suicidal ideation.

If you have changes in mood in the early months of fall, you should get a full evaluation by a health care practitioner which would include a physical exam, psychological exam and lab tests.

As this disorder can vary in severity the treatments also vary. For mild conditions, light therapy and mindfulness techniques may be recommended. As for more severe presentation, psychotherapy or medication/supplements may be recommended.

If you feel you may suffer from SAD and would like more information on the evaluation and treatments you can book with Dr. Matthew Pace, ND