Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that affects people during the same season each year. SAD is also sometimes known as winter depression or seasonal depression.
Experts believe SAD is caused by a lack of sunlight as the seasons change. The lack of light has the potential to upset your biological clock and cause changes in brain chemicals such as serotonin. Between 60 percent and 90 percent of those with SAD are women.
Symptoms of SAD are similar to the symptoms of major depression, but symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD include tiredness or low energy despite getting plenty of sleep, oversleeping, weight gain, changes in appetite, intense cravings for foods high in carbs, problems getting along with others and hypersensitivity to rejection.
Experts recommend seeing a doctor if you feel sad for days at a time and if you can’t find motivation to do activities you previously enjoyed. Experts also say you should pay attention to any changes in sleep patterns or appetite.
One main treatment for SAD is light therapy, but other methods of treatment include medication and counseling.