What is Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that occurs because of the changing seasons. This condition most commonly begins in the fall and worsens in the winter months. SAD occurs when decreased levels of sunlight decrease the amount of serotonin and melatonin in your body. Serotonin and melatonin help balance your mood and sleep patterns. SAD is rarely diagnosed in the spring and summer because of increased melatonin and serotonin levels.

Symptoms of SAD

Knowing the symptoms of SAD can help you determine whether this is a condition that you have. Keep in mind that SAD comes on at a certain time of year, and gets worse as the season progresses. SAD goes away with the season changes, which is one of the things that distinguishes this condition from regular depression.

  • Feelings and thoughts of depression
  • Losing interest in activities you normally love
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in sleeping patterns (either over sleeping or insomnia)
  • Increased or decreased appetite, with accompanying weight loss or weight gain
  • Feelings of being low energy, lethargic
  • Social withdrawal
  • Lack of motivation
  • Anxiety and irritability

Treatments of SAD

Once you’ve been diagnosed, there are many ways to treat SAD. Since the problem is often brought about because of changes in the light, light therapy is one of the most common and effective treatments for SAD. During light therapy, patients spend up to 20 minutes in a room with special lights that mimic the exposure to daylight that generates serotonin and melatonin.

Other treatments include:

  • Exercise. Endorphins released during exercise can combat the effects of SAD. A good way to get exercise is to start a daily workout.
  • Serotonin and melatonin pills. Serotonin and melatonin pills are an easy way to ingest both hormones. Serotonin and melatonin helps improve your circadian rhythm.
  • Talk therapy. Talk therapy provides patients with a way to talk through struggles with depression.
  • Spend time outside. Spending time outdoors can increase your serotonin and melatonin levels, to improve your overall health.

Do not ignore your symptoms. Some patients dismiss their own feelings of sadness as a bad mood or a temporary blip. What many don’t realize is that their feelings are a natural reaction to a reduction in serotonin and melatonin. It’s not in your imagination: you’re experiencing feelings of depression that are real and treatable. You need help from a professional.

Having a Mental Health Crisis? What to Do

Depression, SAD and other mental health conditions can be dangerous if they’re not treated properly. The professionals at Jonas Hill Hospital & Clinic can help. To learn more about how we can help you with seasonal affective disorder and other mental health conditions, call today.


Jonas Hill Hospital & Clinic, a division of Caldwell Memorial Hospital provides our community with safe, dignified and integrated care for adult patients experiencing an acute mental health need. We provide hope, treatment, and healing through a holistic program of evidence-based psychiatric treatment, team-based medical care, and education provided by engaging and dedicated professionals in a safe and healing environment. Contact us today for more information. A safe space to heal.