By Dr. Mercola
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs seasonally, typically ramping up in the fall and winter months and disappearing come spring (although it may occur during other seasons as well, albeit less often). It’s quite common for people to notice changes in their mood, energy levels and food cravings when the weather turns colder and the days get shorter, but this slump, known as “winter blues,” is different from true SAD.
In the case of SAD, symptoms are so severe that they interfere with daily life. “I feel myself wanting to cry for no reason; I overreact extensively and am extremely irritable,” one SAD sufferer told NBC News.1 “There are days where I cannot bring myself to get out of bed or function.”
Common SAD symptoms include oversleeping, intense carbohydrate cravings, overeating and weight gain. Some people also have trouble concentrating and withdraw socially,2 preferring to “hibernate” indoors instead of carrying on with their normal day-to-day activities.
Dr. Norman Rosenthal, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, was the first to describe SAD, writing in a 1984 journal article that the “depressions were generally characterized by hypersomnia, overeating and carbohydrate craving, and seemed to respond to changes in climate and latitude.”3 Indeed, rates of SAD vary depending on location, with people living farthest from the equator in northern latitudes being most susceptible.
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