Washington Center for Women's and Children's Wellness (WCWCW)
Child, Adolescent, Women’s & Reproductive Psychiatry located in Bethesda, MD and offering Telehealth appointments in Maryland, Virginia, DC, Florida and Michigan
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression the "winter blues," is a subtype of depression or bipolar disorder that occurs and ends around the same time every year. Seasonal depression typically occurs when the seasons change and most symptoms begin in the fall and continue into the winter months. Seasonal Affective Disorder can occur in the summer or spring, although this is less common. Our specialists at WCWCW in Bethesda, Maryland, offer the supportive care you need to overcome the challenges of SAD. We provide the same high-quality service via telehealth for patients living in Maryland, DC, Virginia, Michigan, and Florida. Call our office or request an appointment online.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Q & A
How common is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Between 4% and 6% of people in the United States suffer from SAD. Another 10% to 20% may experience it in a milder form. SAD is more common in women than in men. Some children and teenagers get SAD. But it usually doesn’t start in people younger than 20 years of age. The risk of SAD decreases for adults as they age. SAD is more common in northern regions of the United States. Winters are typically longer and harsher there. There is also less sunlight because they are farther away from the equator.
In most cases, SAD seems to be related to the loss of sunlight in the fall and winter. Researchers have found that reduced sunlight can affect the body in ways that could contribute to SAD. These include:
Some people have a higher risk of developing SAD. Factors that increase risk include:
- Being female. Four times as many women are diagnosed with SAD than men.
- Living far from the equator. In the United States, living farther north increases your risk. These areas get less sunlight in fall and winter.
- Family history. Having family members with SAD or other forms of depression increases your risk.
- Having depression or bipolar disorder. If you have one of these conditions, your symptoms may worsen with the seasons.
- Young age. SAD is more common among younger adults. It has been reported in teens and children. Your chances of getting it decrease as you get older.
To learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), make an appointment at WCWCW by calling our office or request an appointment online today
What are the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are similar to those that occur with depression, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell if someone has seasonal depression or other types of depression. Symptoms that are typically more common in seasonal depression than in other forms of depression are carbohydrate craving, increased appetite, excessive sleepiness, and weight gain. A diagnosis of seasonal depression can be made after two consecutive occurrences of depression that occur and end at the same time every year, with the symptoms subsiding the rest of the year. Specific symptoms of seasonal depression can include:
- Depression: misery, guilt, loss of self-esteem, hopelessness, diminished interest in activities, despair, and apathy
- Anxiety: tension and inability to tolerate stress
- Mood changes: extremes of mood and, in some, periods of mania in spring and summer
- Sleep problems: desire to oversleep and difficulty staying awake or, sometimes, disturbed sleep and early morning waking
- Lethargy: a feeling of fatigue and inability to carry out normal routine
- Overeating: craving for starchy and sweet foods resulting in weight gain
- Social problems: irritability and desire to avoid social contact
- Sexual problems: loss of libido and decreased interest in physical contact
Our specialists at WCWCW in Bethesda, Maryland, offer the supportive care you need to overcome the challenges of seasonal affective disorder. We provide the same high-quality service via telehealth for patients living in Maryland, DC, Virginia, Michigan, and Florida. Call our office or request an appointment online.