Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to changes in the season. Sad is cyclical coming and going at the same time each year. Most people who experience SAD suffer during the fall and winter months, however SAD can occur in the spring and summer. Many people try to ignore their seasonal depression, calling it the winter blues, but there is no reason to suffer from depression any time of year.
Symptoms of seasonal depression tend to start mild at the beginning of the season, and become more severe farther into the season, going away when the next season begins. SAD is not considered a separate disorder from depression; it is depression that occurs seasonally. A person must meet the full criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons for at least two years to be diagnosed with SAD. There must be a notable change in depression frequency during specific seasons than occurs during the non-season.
Symptoms of Major Depression
- Feeling depressed majority of the time
- Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Low energy
- Problems sleeping
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Symptoms Specific to Fall and Winter SAD
- Cravings for foods high in carbohydrates and other appetite changes
- Weight gain
- Low energy, tiredness
- Hibernating, social withdrawal
Symptoms Specific to Spring and Summer SAD
- Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Agitation or anxiety
SAD can also bring on changes to people who already suffer from bipolar disorder. During the spring and summer, those suffering from bipolar disorder may experience mania or hypomania (a less intense form of mania). During the fall and winter, they may experience more severe depression.
While there is no specific known cause for seasonal affective disorder, there are some common aspects and risk factors. Knowing the common factors that can impact your risk can help you to be more aware and committed to monitoring your mood.
- Circadian rhythm – reduced sunlight may disrupt your internal biological clock and lead to fall and winter depression
- Serotonin levels – this chemical in the brain (neurotransmitter) affects mood and reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin levels
- Melatonin levels – seasonal changes can disrupt the balance of melatonin levels in the body affecting sleep patterns and moods
- Sex – occurs more often in females than males
- Age – occurs more often in younger adults than older adults
- Family history – those with SAD are more likely to have a blood relative with some form of depression
- Major depression or bipolar disorder can become worse with seasonal changes
- Location – SAD occurs more commonly among people who live farther from the equator, possibly due to shorter days and decreased sunlight in the winter.
Some things that can help reduce SAD symptoms are getting plenty of sun when it is out, getting plenty of exercise, making a daily schedule, and keeping a journal. The above symptoms must not be ignored though, medical treatment must be sought to diagnose and treat SAD, to prevent further complications. Untreated, SAD can get worse and lead to serious problems, such as social withdrawal, school or work problems, substance abuse, anxiety or eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts or behavior.
Ketamine Infusion Centers offers an effective treatment against seasonal affective disorder, especially for patients with resistance to typical SAD medications or therapy treatments. Patients at Ketamine Infusion Centers report improvements in symptoms within hours or days after ketamine infusions, rather than the 4-6 weeks it takes with typical medications or therapy treatments. Ketamine infusions are also a great adjunct therapy for those with underlying depression that becomes worse with seasonal changes. These patients can continue their traditional depression treatments and supplement with ketamine infusions during the affected seasons.
Another benefit to ketamine infusions is when the season changes and symptoms resolve, infusions are stopped. Ketamine is so effective it does not typically require frequent or routine treatments for SAD. Infusions can be taken when needed and stopped when you feel better. Ketamine Infusion Centers will help you to face each time change with a positive outlook and avoid seasonal affective disorder symptoms.