Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) diagnosis may be difficult because symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions, such as the flu or seasonal allergies. however, there are some key symptoms that are specific to seasonal affective disorder.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs during the fall and winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. SAD is sometimes called “winter depression” or ” seasonal depression.”
Causes of Seasonal affective disorder
While the exact cause of seasonal affective disorder is not known, it is thought to be related to changes in sunlight exposure and the body’s natural circadian rhythms. SAD is more common in women than men, and people who live in northern climates are at higher risk for developing the condition.
Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder can include:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy levels
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
If you are experiencing several of these symptoms for two or more weeks, and they are significantly impacting your life, you should consult with a mental health professional. A diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder can be made based on your symptoms and patterns of when they occur. If you have SAD, treatment will typically involve light therapy, counseling, and/or medication. With proper treatment, seasonal affective disorder is highly treatable.
How to diagnose Seasonal affective disorder
If you suspect that you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), it is important to see a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis.
There are a number of different ways to diagnose seasonal affective disorder. One common method is to ask questions about your symptoms and when they occur.
Your mental health professional may also ask you to keep a daily journal of your moods and activities to help track any patterns that may be linked to your seasonal affective disorder.
Other methods of diagnosis include blood tests, brain scans, and observation. These tests can rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms.
Once seasonal affective disorder is diagnosed, treatment can begin. Treatment options include light therapy, medication, and counseling.
If you think you may have seasonal affective disorder, talk to your doctor or mental health professional about getting a diagnosis.