Do I Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?

With winter starting in many parts of the country, some of you may be wondering if you are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

To determine whether or not you have seasonal affective disorder, your doctor will want to know if you demonstrate symptoms each year during the same season, for at least 2 years in a row. Your doctor also needs to verify that after showing symptoms during the fall and winter months, for example, your depression goes away in the spring and summer. The doctor may also complete a thorough physical and psychological examination to determine any other factors that may be contributing to your symptoms.

If you suffer from fall and winter seasonal affective disorder, you may feel anxious, depressed, hopeless and lethargic. You may also gain weight, have a hard time concentrating, lose interest in daily activities, withdraw from friends and family and sleep more than usual. The symptoms of spring and summer seasonal affective disorder are a bit different. Instead of feeling depressed, you may feel irritable, anxious and agitated, and you may lose weight and suffer from insomnia. A rare form of the disorder, called reverse seasonal affective disorder, makes people feel extremely hyperactive and manic instead of causing depression.

Luckily, there are effective treatments that can relieve your symptoms and even prevent you from experiencing the negative emotions caused by seasonal affective disorder. In a common treatment called light therapy, you sit close to a light therapy box that gives off bright light. It creates the same effect in your brain as outdoor light and may relieve your depressive symptoms.

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