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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Causes, symptoms and treatment | Health

More than 10 million people in India suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, making one wonder what it is but as the name suggests, the season and the associated weather affects the mood of a person. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a type of depression related to changes in seasons where most people with SAD experience symptoms that start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping their energy and making them feel moody but these symptoms usually resolve during the spring and summer months while less commonly, SAD may cause depression in the spring or early summer and resolves during the fall or winter months.


In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Shinjini Deb, Clinical Psychologist in Kolkata, shared, “The real reason for SAD is unknown. Although, In India, the scorching summer and gloomy winters are the marked seasons when people feel either low, irritable or out of place because of the weather. The monsoon can also cause a sufficient amount of irritation in a person mere thinking of the inconveniences. The natural biological clock is affected and further causes changes in the mood.”


According Drisha Dey, Consultant Psychologist in Kolkata, symptoms include feeling restless, sad or down most of the day, nearly every day, which generally worsens after the sunset. Other symptoms are:

1. Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed

2. Having low energy and feeling sluggish

3. Having problems with sleeping too much

4. Experiencing carbohydrate cravings, overeating and weight gain

5. Having difficulty concentrating

6. Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty

7. Having thoughts of not wanting to live

She highlighted, “It is normal to have some days when you feel down, but if it persists and if you feel down for days at a time and can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your health care provider. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed, you turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation or you feel hopeless or think about suicide.”

Shinjini Deb said, “Lack of energy, sleep disturbances, low mood are the most common symptoms observed in a person without the contribution of stressors other than the weather/season.”


Drisha Dey revealed, “Treatment for SAD includes being in the sunlight or light therapy (phototherapy) when that is not possible, psychotherapy and medications. One should take steps to keep their mood and motivation steady throughout the year. Awareness that it is just the season, is key, and it is important to somewhat force yourself to do the things you know you generally enjoy.”

Shinjini Deb suggested:

– One must make sure that they incorporate a high energy activity on a regular basis to stimulate the necessary neurotransmitters or the happy hormones to uplift mood.

– Consuming the necessary nutrients and maintaining the level of hydration is very important.

– It is important to maintain contact with friends and not withdraw.

– Drinking water and taking cold/warm showers based on the weather can change the temperature triggered irritation and change ones mood.

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