Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

What is seasonal affective disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder is a combination of biologic and mood disturbances with a seasonal pattern. It typically occurs in the autumn (fall) and winter, with remission in the spring or summer.

How common is seasonal affective disorder?

5% of the U.S. population experiences seasonal affective disorder. Because the symptoms are seasonal, they are present for 40% of the year. Although the condition is seasonally limited, patients may have associated depression which would last longer.

What is the treatment for seasonal affective disorder?

Light therapy is well tolerated. Most patients improve within 1-2 weeks. To avoid relapse, light therapy should continue through the end of the winter season until spontaneous remission of symptoms in the spring or summer.

Antidepressant medications and cognitive behavior therapy are as effective as light therapy.

How to prevent seasonal affective disorder?

Light treatment may be used as prophylaxis before the subsequent autumn and winter seasons.

There are many devices available on Amazon, for example:


Seasonal affective disorder. Kurlansik SL, Ibay AD. Am Family Physician, Dec 2012.
Image sources: Record breaking snowfall March 2008 at Aubrey, Texas, Wikipedia, public domain

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