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Why do I feel so SAD?

The Doc’s Corner

Why do I feel so SAD?

Have you or someone you know experienced feelings of irritability, low energy, appetite changes, weight gain and problems getting along with others during the fall and winter months? If so, you could be experiencing a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or “seasonal blues”. SAD is a form of depression that affects millions of people during the fall and winter months. This form of depression is often related to the changes in the seasons. People who suffer from SAD often experience symptoms of major depression such as feeling hopeless/worthless, low energy, changes in appetite, feelings of irritability and problems with sleep. In most cases, SAD symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the spring and summer when the weather is warmer and there is more sunlight.

While there is no known cause of SAD, a few factors are important to consider:

1) Your biological clock- the decrease in sunlight in the fall and winter months can disrupt the body’s internal working clock and lead to feelings of depression.

2) Serotonin levels- low levels of serotonin (brain chemical) can affect mood leading to SAD.

3) Melatonin levels- the change in the season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin which can affect sleep patterns and mood.

SAD disorder is often seen in more females than males and younger people are at a higher risk of developing SAD than older people. Individuals with a family history of SAD disorder or other depressive disorders are also at a higher risk. Treatment for SAD includes psychotherapy, phototherapy (light therapy) and medication.

For more information on SAD and treatment:


Seasonal-affective disorder. American Psychiatric Association. Accessed November 30, 2015.


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