What is it?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. Usually, the symptoms start in the autumn and can continue into the winter months. The signs of SAD include those linked with major depression. Note that not every person experiences all of the symptoms.

Symptoms of major SAD may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Experiencing changes in appetite or weight
  • Having problems with sleep and difficulty concentrating
  • Having low energy, over sleeping
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Overeating which often leads to weight gain

How can you help yourself or others?

It might seem that you have the ‘’winter blues’’ but don’t brush it off as a yearly feeling that you can solve on your own. Winter-onset SAD is thought to be linked to the shorter daylight hours, as well as darker days, while summer-onset SAD is linked to longer daylight hours and brighter days. Our bodies respond to sunlight by changing hormonal and neurotransmitter levels and so these seasonal changes can lead to chemical imbalances. As such, treatment of winter-onset SAD is often centered on increasing exposure to sunlight including:

  • Going for a walk during the day
  • Arranging your home and work space to maximize sunlight
  • Using specially designed lamps that work to alleviate symptoms of SAD by mimicking sunlight with very bright lights

Treatment – How to get help?

Therapy, a supportive environment and oftentimes, medication are the most common ways to treat it. If you, or your loved one experience the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can guide you to the right support and services.


What to say to a person with seasonal affective disorder:

’‘’What can I do to help you?’’

‘’I am concerned about you, you know you can always talk to me, right?’’

‘’It’s okay to feel this way.’’


What not to say to a person with seasonal affective disorder:

‘’Seasonal depression? That is not even a real thing!’’

‘’Happiness is a choice.’’

‘’Maybe if you just didn’t spend the whole day in bed, you would feel better!’’


Substance Abuse and Mental Health info

At SAMHA, we are here to listen to you, to guide you, and to advocate for you.