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Seasonal affective disorder

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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also called winter depression, winter blues, summer depression and seasonal depression, is a mood disorder that happens in people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year. They show depressive symptoms at the same time each year, usually in the winter.[1][2]

Cause and Symptoms

Some people think that SAD is related to not having enough serotonin because they don't get enough sunlight, which could cause serotonin polymorphisms. Serotonin polymorphisms could be the cause in SAD,[3] although it has been disputed (people think it's not correct).[4]

Some symptoms are:[5]

  • Feeling sad, grumpy anxious or moody (getting angry or sad without warning)
  • Losing interest in your usual activities
  • Gaining weight
  • Sleep and appetite problems
  • Less social interaction
  • Difficulty concentrating and making choices
  • Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness


Treatments include light therapy, medication, ionized-air administration,[6] cognitive-behavioral therapy, and taking the hormone melatonin at the right time.[7] Doctors often cure SAD with bright light therapy,[8][9] although normal light therapy is the most common treatment for SAD. Part of light therapy can include being in sunlight, either directly from being outside,[10] or by using a computer controlled heliostat (a device that includes a mirror, usually a plain mirror, usually turns to keep reflecting sunlight on a specific object) to reflect into the windows of a home or office. Physical exercise is also a good form of therapy for SAD, especially when combined with other forms of treatments.[11]


  1. Ivry, Sara (2002-08-13) (in en-US). Seasonal Depression Can Accompany Summer Sun. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved 2017-12-04. 
  2. Oginska, Halszka; Oginska-Bruchal, Katarzyna (2014-05-01). "Chronotype and personality factors of predisposition to seasonal affective disorder". Chronobiology International 31 (4): 523–531. doi:10.3109/07420528.2013.874355 . ISSN 0742-0528 . 
  3. Johansson, C.; Smedh, C.; Partonen, T.; Pekkarinen, P.; Paunio, T.; Ekholm, J.; Peltonen, L.; Lichtermann, D. et al. (2001-04-01). "Seasonal Affective Disorder and Serotonin-Related Polymorphisms". Neurobiology of Disease 8 (2): 351–357. doi:10.1006/nbdi.2000.0373 . 
  4. Johansson, C.; Willeit, M.; Levitan, R.; Partonen, T.; Smedh, C.; Favero, J. Del; Kacem, S. Bel; Praschak-Rieder, N. et al. (2003/07). "The serotonin transporter promoter repeat length polymorphism, seasonal affective disorder and seasonality". Psychological Medicine 33 (5): 785–792. doi:10.1017/S0033291703007372 . ISSN 1469-8978 . 
  5. "Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic" (in en). Retrieved 2017-12-04. 
  6. Terman, Michael; Terman, Jiuan Su (2006-12-01). "Controlled Trial of Naturalistic Dawn Simulation and Negative Air Ionization for Seasonal Affective Disorder". American Journal of Psychiatry 163 (12): 2126–2133. doi:10.1176/ajp.2006.163.12.2126 . ISSN 0002-953X . 
  7. "NIMH » Recent Science News" (in en). Retrieved 2017-12-04. 
  8. Avery, D. H.; Kizer, D.; Bolte, M. A.; Hellekson, C. (2001-04-01). "Bright light therapy of subsyndromal seasonal affective disorder in the workplace: morning vs. afternoon exposure" (in en). Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 103 (4): 267–274. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0447.2001.00078.x . ISSN 1600-0447 . 
  9. Bhattacharjee, Yudhijit (2007-09-14). "Is Internal Timing Key to Mental Health?" (in en). Science 317 (5844): 1488–1490. doi:10.1126/science.317.5844.1488 . ISSN 0036-8075 . PMID 17872420 . 
  10. Beck, Melinda (2009-12-01) (in en-US). Bright Ideas for Treating the Winter Blues. ISSN 0099-9660 . Retrieved 2017-12-04. 
  11. Pinchasov, Boris B.; Shurgaja, Alexandra M.; Grischin, Oleg V.; Putilov, Arcady A. (2000-04-24). "Mood and energy regulation in seasonal and non-seasonal depression before and after midday treatment with physical exercise or bright light". Psychiatry Research 94 (1): 29–42. doi:10.1016/S0165-1781(00)00138-4 .