Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression that is commonly seen in the months of winter. The Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5, identifies it as a form of depression, i.e., Major Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Patterns.
As mentioned above, seasonal affective disorder tends to almost always occur in the months of winter and mellows down when spring arrives. But there have been cases where patients have suffered from SAD in the months of summer as well, which ends with the arrival of fall.
SAD is a mood disorder and is known to happen every year at the same time, that is either at the advent of winter or summer. The cause behind this isn’t clear yet but a lot of research and works by notable scientists suggest that this might occur due to some hormonal imbalance in the body.
The lack of sunlight during winter is also stated as a probable cause behind this, as sunbeams are found to boost our serotonin levels and the lack of which can affect the functioning of one’s brain activity and trigger depression.
Most often seen among young adults, especially women, seasonal affective disorder is more likely to be observed in colder countries than the ones that have sunlight year-round. SAD comes with a number of symptoms and signs, plenty of which can be used to identify the condition and seek support from professionals.
These are some of the common symptoms of SAD that are seen among patients suffering from it. It is strongly recommended to see a specialist and get the required help if you experience some or all of the following:
Fatigue: Being too tired, elevated levels of exhaustion and fatigue are one of the most significant symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. In many cases, patients suffering from SAD, have complained about feeling exhausted and having little to no energy to do anything.
Lack of motivation: SAD, like many other mood disorders, affects the person’s source of motivation substantially. People suffering from seasonal affective disorder, often mention feeling a sense of lack of motivation for almost everything in their lives. The individual starts to lose interest in doing even the mundane tasks and tend to feel lost.
Oversleeping: The lack of energy and loss of motivation leads to the person sleeping for longer hours and being in bed for more than their normal days. The lack of energy can be traced back as the reason behind this and is a symptom common amid plenty of people suffering from SAD. Oversleeping is seen as a form of escape, it keeps them from facing the reality as well as lets them remain in their comfort zone.
Changes in appetite: People with seasonal affective disorder are prone to having a drastic change in their appetite. While some individuals might suggest not feeling hungry enough and skipping meals, at times more than once a day, others can have a rise in their appetite and might indulge in binging, that is eating a large amount of food in a short amount of time. The appetite fluctuates in many cases, some experiencing a rise and some a decline.
Low self-esteem: SAD can really have drastic effects on the self-image of the person and mess up their self-esteem. The feeling of worthlessness and isolation can lodge itself in the affected individual’s mind and really do a lot of damage. In general, the self-esteem of the person is at its all time low during this period of time.
Loss of interest in hobbies: Loss of interest in hobbies is another notable symptom of SAD, especially with the fatigue and lack of motivation settling in, the individual seldom feels any point in keeping up with their hobbies and other leisure activity. They spend most of their time in bed, detaching themselves from the world.
Lack of concentration: Individuals with this condition face concentration issues and have a hard time being focused on a particular task for long. It becomes difficult to manage doing even basic things and affects their overall performance. The person might mention feeling dazed and not understanding simple instructions, which can hinder them from taking part in day-to-day tasks and duties.
Reduced sex drive: Like almost every other type of depression, seasonal affective disorder also effects the libido of the person. The individual with SAD, may experience sharp decline in their sex drive and have barely any interest in getting intimate at the time. The motivation to engage in sexual activity is mostly diminished.