By: Michelle Hua
Depression comes in multiple forms, with one of the most common being seasonal affective depression (SAD). As the name suggests, SAD is a type of depression that changes with the seasons, with symptoms that start and end at the same time as previous years. Most often, people affected by SAD experience symptoms of depression in colder months, from fall through winter, though in rare cases, the symptoms are exhibited in spring and/or summer.
SAD affects a large percent of the population, with 10 million people experiencing it in the US alone. Many more people also experience mild SAD symptoms. SAD has been shown to be much more prevalent among women, with it being four times more common amongst women than men.
SAD symptoms are fairly similar to regular depression, with winter SAD symptoms including:
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Changes in appetite (often craves carbohydrates)
- Changes in weight
- Low energy
- Difficulty in focusing/concentration
- Decreased self-esteem
- Thoughts of suicide
Summer SAD symptoms are similar but have a few differences with winter SAD, such as:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
While the exact cause of SAD is unknown, ways to treat it do exist. Treatment can include light therapy, antidepressant medication, and counseling. While occasional feelings of sadness may not be something you need to worry about, if you regularly experience SAD symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor and get treatment.