What is Seasonal Depression?
Seasonal Depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that
that fluctuates with changes in weather seasons. Seasonal Depression typically begins in the
Autumn months and continue into the winter months; however, in some cases Seasonal Depression
can begin in spring and continue through summer. Seasonal Depression is not just 'Winter Blues'
and is classified as a mental health disorder in the DSM-5.
What are symptoms of Seasonal Depression?
Symptoms of Seasonal Depression mimic those of a major depressive episode. These include low
motivation, low mood, anhedonia, weight and appetite changes, reduced energy, sleeping
difficulties, and feelings of hopelessness. There are a few differences in symptomology between
autumn/winter onset and spring/summer onset.
Autumn/Winter Onset of SAD Symptoms
- Appetite changes
- Weight gain
- Tiredness and low energy
Spring/Summer Onset of SAD Symptoms
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Agitation or anxiety
- Increase irritability
How does Seasonal Depression impact daily living?
The symptoms of Seasonal Depression can have a large impact on across a range of life domains.
SAD can lead to social withdrawal from friends and family, as well as reduce a persons' functioning
at school or in the workplace. Seasonal Depression can also lead to individuals self-medicating via
alcohol or other substance use and can increase other mental health issues such as anxiety and
eating disorders. In severe cases, Seasonal Depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
Treatments for Seasonal Depression
- Light Therapy - aiming to reset circadian rhythm.
- Psychotherapy - talk therapy.
- Vitamin D - replace what has been lost due to lack of sunlight.
- Antidepressant medication