What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder ?


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a special type of depressive disorder where an individual experiences a change in themselves around the same time every year and that resolves after some time. This often seems to start in autumn before the onset of winter and improves during spring as summer comes. Explained Dr Sanjay Garg Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospitals, Anandapur, Kolkata

 Often individuals complain of lacking in energy, irritability, increased sleep and food cravings especially for carbohydrates leading to weight gain. They find it difficult to get out of the bed in morning, get tired very easily as the day progresses and have a sunken/laden feeling in the arms and legs. They get upset very easily on trivial things and are overtly sensitive. They may end to weep very easily.

Though the exact cause remains unknown but the lack of sunlight during winter has a role to play. Dysregulation of Melatonin may influence sleep and mood changes. Serotonin levels decreasing due to less sunlight may also produce these symptoms. Changes in the circadian rhythm may also be a contributory factor.

It is more common in younger age group, females and people living further away from Equator. Having a family history or previous depressive disorder increases the risk.

The golden principle always is prevention is better than cure. If you are an individual who has noticed this happening with you regularly, be prepared. Keep your house bright and airy – open windows and blinds, have regular walks in sunlight, have your lunch in open, sits near the window at home or office.  Exercise regularly, do yoga and meditation. Take a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. If these things do not help or it is severe enough to affect your day to day function, then you may need to see a professional. Phototherapy with special light boxes, psychotherapy or sometimes medications does provide relief.