Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): 9 symptoms and 2 treatments

Seasonal affective disorder: what is it?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type ofdepression that occurs at a certain time of the year, and affects 1 in 10 people. The diagnosis is made with the occurrence of at least two consecutive episodes, that is, it is necessary for SAD to occur for two consecutive years (for example, in the winter of 2018 and in the winter of 2019).

Some of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Lethargy
  3. Irritability
  4. Cry
  5. Reduced libido
  6. Low self esteem
  7. Withdrawal from social situations
  8. Sleep problems
  9. Food cravings

Dr. Stephen Lurie, author of a review on seasonal affective disorder, said:

“Like major depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder is probably underdiagnosed in primary care offices. But with personalized and detailed attention to symptoms, most patients can be helped a lot ”.

Treatments for seasonal affective disorder

One type of treatment for seasonal affective disorder that has become popular in recent years is phototherapy (light therapy) , which seems to be a good option for immediate improvement.

However, some studies indicate that the best long-term treatment for SAD is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

The rate of people who continue to use light therapy for seasonal affective disorder in the second year can be as low as 30%. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on dysfunctional cognitions (thoughts, beliefs), and can assist in the acquisition of coping skills.

Sometimes, seasonal affective disorder can be confused with other mental health problems.

According to Dr. Lurie:

“If you are a patient who has been diagnosed with a mental illness of any kind, don’t just assume that any new mental or emotional problem is due to that illness.

Specifically, if you have ADHD and feel worse in the winter, don’t just think that your ADHD is getting worse.

In fact, it can be SAD – and you should see your doctor because ADHD and SAD are treated in entirely different ways. ”

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