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What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

SAD is a type of depression that occurs during autumn and winter, and disappears in the spring and summer months. Symptoms will appear around the same time every year.

SAD often affects those who live further away from the equator. Due to this, it is believed that the shorter days and the reduced levels of sunlight in winter can trigger it.

Many of the symptoms can be overlooked or ignored as feeling a bit down in the dumps, but it is important to speak to a doctor if you are experiencing seasonal depression every year.

What causes SAD?

The exact causes of SAD are not well understood. As we briefly mentioned above, it is believed that the lower levels of sunlight during the darker months disrupts some people’s biological clock. This can result in the body producing less serotonin and more melatonin.

Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that affects people’s mood. Low levels of serotonin could be one of the reasons why people experience SAD.

Melatonin is created in the body when it is dark and is responsible for helping us sleep. When it gets light, the body stops producing it, but it has been found that people with SAD may have increased levels of it in their body. This can change their sleeping patterns and make it harder for them to get up in the morning.

If you believe you may have SAD, our online doctors can talk to you about your symptoms and help you try to identify what is causing them.

Who does SAD affect?

The symptoms of SAD often begin to appear in young adults, but they can affect people of all ages. It is also more common in females, but again, it can affect anyone.

What are the symptoms of SAD?

SAD affects people in different ways. The symptoms are similar to depression symptoms. It occurs around the same time every year, usually in the winter.

If you are struggling to cope with the symptoms of SAD, then it is a good idea to speak to someone about it. Our doctors can listen to how you are feeling, diagnose your condition and recommend an appropriate treatment to help you start feeling better.

Read more infomration on symptoms of SAD.

How do you Diagnose SAD?

Our caring doctors will talk to you in depth about your symptoms and they will ask you questions that will allow them to determine whether you may have SAD or another condition. It is important to be honest and open, so that the doctor can correctly diagnose you.

They may ask about your sleeping patterns, your mood and energy levels and about your personal and family medical history.

For more detailed information about what will happen during an online consultation and how a doctor would diagnose SAD.

How to treat SAD?

SAD is a long-term condition that may return each year at the onset of autumn or winter, but there are a range of effective treatments that can help to relieve your symptoms.

SAD treatment may include:

  • A talking therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Medication, such as antidepressants
  • Light therapy
  • A combination of all or some of these

A bespoke treatment plan will be created for you and your individual symptoms. This is why it helps our doctors to have as much information as possible about how the condition is affecting you. Find out more about how SAD can be treated here.

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