Seasonal Affective Disorder

Carol Roach By Carol Roach, 20th Sep 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Diseases & Infections

If you live in Montreal it is important to know that winter blues is not just about the holidays. It can be a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder otherwise known as S.A.D. This acronym is very apropos because you feel sad or worst still you are depressed.

Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder

People in the north are more likely to be affected by S.A.D because of long winters months in Europe and Canada. However, the primary reason for S.A.D is lack of sunshine. Therefore when you notice the gray, gloomy, rainy days make you down and out of it more than what you think other people feel during these days then you may have SAD.

S.A.D is diagnosed as the same depression which comes about the same time of every year. It is most commonly starts in the fall and last through the winter but it can also happen during the spring and summer months for other Montrealers. The key is it happens during the same time of the year.

At first the symptoms will be mild and they will get worse as the season progresses.

  • Symptoms for fall/winter S.A.D

  • Hopelessness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of energy
  • Heavy feeling in the arms and legs
  • Sleeping too much
  • Weight gain
  • No longer enjoying the activities you love
  • Social withdrawal
  • Lack of concentration
  • [/list}

    Symptoms for spring/summer S.A.D

  • Increased libido
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Agitation

Risk factors associated with seasonal affective disorder

Risk factors associated with seasonal affective disorder


More females are diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder. Though this could be because more females seek help for depression than males. On the other hand, males tend to have more severe symptoms. Again it could mean that men wait longer before they visit their doctor for a diagnosis.


People who live the furthest north away from the equator are more at risk for seasonal affective disorder. The theory is that the northern climates have less sunshine during the winter months.

Family history

Montrealers who already have blood relatives with seasonal affective disorder may be at risk for S.A.D. as well.

Other mental disorders

If you have bipolar disorder or already suffer from clinical depression, you may also have seasonal affective disorder as well.

Complications that could arise from seasonal affective disorder

Even though the disorder will go away in time, it still must be taken seriously. S.A.D. is a form of depression that can lead to serious consequences if not treated. The complications for this disorder includes:

  • Problems at work or at school due to depression and lack of energy and lack of interest
  • Social withdrawal from friends and activities normally enjoyed
  • Substance abuse
  • Thinking of suicide or actually carrying it out.

There are treatments available please talk to your doctor about it.

Medical tests for seasonal affective disorder

The first step would be the consultation with the doctor who will ask questions about your condition including questions about your sleeping patterns, diet, relationships, working conditions, and other physical and psychological issues.

Your doctor may perform a physical examination to check your general health.

There really are no specific medical tests to determine seasonal affective disorder. However, your doctor might order blood tests if he or she suspects an underlying medical condition.

Psychological testing for seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder is a subtype of depression or bipolar disorder and it is often difficult to pinpoint because it shares symptoms with so many other mental disorders subtypes.

The physician or psychologist will go by the DSM psychiatric classification especially if the diagnosis is needed for insurance purposes.

To qualify for the diagnosis you would need to have the symptoms for more than two years and these symptoms would have to appear at the same time each year.

The symptoms end after the season ends

There are no other reason for having the symptoms such as a death in the family and so on.

Therapy for seasonal affective disorder

Treatment for S.A.D.

Light therapy and medication is often recommended for Seasonal affective disorder however, they could trigger a manic episode in people who have bipolar disorder.

Light therapy

You will sit close to a box that emits light that mimics sunlight. The light is said to change the brain chemicals that are responsible for mood.

All in all light therapy is the first line of treatment for S.A.D. Though it causes very little side effects make sure you consult with your doctor before you go out and buy your own box.

Medication for S.A.D.

Medication is often recommended for Seasonal affective disorder however, it could trigger a manic episode in people who have bipolar disorder.

Paxil, Zoloff, Effexor, and Prozac are medications which may be given for seasonal affective disorder. These antidepressant will most likely be given if the symptoms are very severe. The antidepressant Wellbutrin XL may also be useful to combat chronic seasonal affective disorder.

You may have to try different medications before your doctor can find the right one for you. He or she may decide that you start the drugs before the season starts or continue using them for awhile after the season is over.

Psychotherapy may also help you to to change your thoughts and to learn ways to cope with the disorder.

Home remedies

A bright and sunny home

Since light is a major factor with this kind of depression, make sure your home is as light and clear as possible. Keep the window shades up and get in as much natural sunshine that you can.

Trim tree branches or anything that could be blocking the outside source of sunshine.

Sit close to a window in your office or other rooms of the house.

Herbs and supplements

St. John’s Wart

This herb has been used to fight off depression


SAMe is a synthetic chemical which mimics the body’s own chemical. It is widely used in Europe but does not have the approval in the USA or Canada just yet.

Please not that both St. John’s Wart and SAMe may interfere with other medications especially antidepressants.

All photos taken from the public domain
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Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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author avatar brendamarie
20th Sep 2015 (#)

Great article Carol.
I love how you put different types of way to help with this.

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author avatar Lady Aiyanna
20th Sep 2015 (#)

Are you Obsessed with my husband Carol??? It was the content in my email accounts that were hacked.
He is a SAD and a Bipolar sufferer along with Parkinsons apart from being a philandering incesteous wretch.

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author avatar Carol Roach
20th Sep 2015 (#)

I don't know anything about your husband, I am a researcher writer I write topic that I feel are of interest to people and I share some of my life experiences as well.

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author avatar Lady Aiyanna
20th Sep 2015 (#)

See we live apart and its been 5 years. Am not interested and not looking either. Happy as a single mum. Still married though.

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author avatar Kingwell
21st Sep 2015 (#)

Carol, I have suffered from depression, anxiety etc. for most of my life and can certainly relate to S.A.D. Winter months are the most difficult for me but rainy days at any season are challenging at any season. Blessings.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
23rd Sep 2015 (#)

Here in Portland too lots of rain and occasionally snow, but as much as in teh city of Mary!

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