What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

New Year's Eve blues? You may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder


6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Is celebrating New Year's the last thing you want to do? You may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

SAD is a condition that means someone has depression only in the fall and winter, when the weather is darker and gloomier, and deals with more mania/hypomania during the spring and summer.

Here's how the disorder manifests in people with mood disorders: light entrains our circadian rhythms which keeps us on a regular sleep/wake cycle.

Circadian rhythms appear to be biologically abnormal in people with mood disorders.

A gene called CLOCK (circadian local-motor output cycles kaput) appear to be related to abnormal circadian rhythms.

Experts say about one to two percent of the United States population is affected by SAD.

So, most people who think they have it probably don't.

They may have winter depressive episodes and summer manic episodes which can be part of a larger illness called uni-polar or bi-polar disorder.

On the other hand, winter blues are common.

You may have depressive-like symptoms but not clinical depression.

Frequency varies on where you live. Fewer people suffer from winter blues here in the south.

Treatment options include:

  • Increase light exposure in winter and decrease light exposure in the summer.
  • Use light box treatment.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Anti-depressant therapy.

Be sure to talk to a medical professional if you notice your depressive symptoms start in the fall then continue through the winter, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.

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