What Is SAD?

Learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder and its effects…

What Is It?

SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that you can experience during particular seasons or at certain times of the year. Most sufferers find the winter months the hardest, but it can also occur in the summer. Certain kinds of weather can also cause SAD.

It’s not just ‘winter blues’ – SAD is a depression that can really affect everyday life.

What Causes SAD?

No-one knows for sure what causes SAD, but it’s often linked to a reduced exposure to sunlight, which happens during the winter months when the days are shorter. A lack of sunlight can affect the brain which then affects your body’s:

  • Ability to make melatonin (a sleepy hormone) and serotonin (this affects your mood).
  • Internal clock (circadian rhythm) 

What Are The Symptoms?

The symptoms of SAD are very similar to those of depression:

  • Very low mood
  • Irritability
  • Feeling lethargic and tired
  • Feeling despair, worthless or guilty
  • Weight gain
  • Losing interest on things you would normally enjoy

These feelings can be triggered by certain seasons, weather, or a particular time of year, such as Christmas.

How Is SAD Treated?

There are a few different ways to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder. Antidepressants can be prescribed, or a doctor might recommend making some changes to your lifestyle, such as spending more time outdoors to increase your exposure to sunlight. They may also recommend regular exercise to help boost mood and manage stress.

Some SAD sufferers use a special lamp called a light box. It gives off a light similar to sunlight and can be used during the darker months to help treat the condition. Sometimes therapy such as CBT can also be helpful for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I Think I Might Have SAD…

If you think you might have Seasonal Affective Disorder, please don’t suffer in silence. Talk to a parent and reach out to your GP for more help. Your doctor will carry out an assessment to determine what is causing you to feel so low. They’ll talk to you about your mood, your lifestyle, your eating and sleeping patterns and your family history. It can help to tell your doctor if any of your symptoms seem to be triggered by certain seasons, especially if you’ve noticed a definite pattern.


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