Seasonal Affective Disorder

January 31, 2022

Behavioral Health SessionHave you been feeling the winter blues lately? There is such a thing as Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) and it could be affecting you.  S.A.D. is usually seen by behavioral health professionals during the fall and winter months. It generally occurs during Daylight Savings Time when the mornings and evenings are darker and there is less light during the day. There are certain risk factors, symptoms, and treatments for S.A.D. that our behavioral health team has put together. 

Risk factors

There are several factors that can increase the risk of experiencing seasonal affective disorder. In a 2015 study, it was found that women are four times more likely to be diagnosed with S.A.D than men, putting them at a higher risk. Another risk factor is your geographical location. People who live in areas that are closer to the equator and typically have more sun and warmer temperatures, are less likely to be affected than people who live in colder regions like New England, Canada and Alaska. Family history can also play a part in a persons likelihood of developing S.A.D. If there is a family history of other types of depression, there is an increased risk. 


Symptoms of S.A.D.

There are several symptoms of S.A.D. and depending on the individual, you may not necessarily have all of the symptoms

  • Feeling depressed most of the day/nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having low energy
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having problems with sleep
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Hypersomnia
  • Overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Craving carbohydrates
  • Social withdrawal/feel like “hibernating”



Don’t worry, there are several different ways to treat S.A.D. 

Medication– There are medications such as antidepressants which can help improve moods and lessen symptoms of S.A.D. 

Light therapy: Light therapy provides artificial light to impact brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep. The treatment is easy and can be done from the comfort of your own home. To learn more about light therapy click here.

Psychotherapy– Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which is ues in other behavioral health treatments, has been shown to be effective for S.A.D.

Vitamin D– As we mentioned in our Winter Health Tips blog last week, vitamin D deficiencies can lead to mood changes and are more common during winter months when we get less natural sunlight.   


If you or someone you know is struggling with S.A.D. or other mental health issues, please call 203-756-8021 Ext. 3529 to speak with a behavioral health professional today. 


The StayWell Health Center Behavioral Health Team