Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression with a recurring seasonal pattern, with symptoms most often starting in the late fall and early winter and going away in the spring and summer. The risk of SAD is higher in people who live far from the equator and those with a personal or family history of depression. Women are more likely than men to develop SAD, and younger people have a higher risk than older ones.
Types of treatment that have been studied for SAD include medication (antidepressants), psychotherapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT), light therapy, and dietary supplements (such as vitamin D).
- Like other medications, those used for SAD may have side effects. Sometimes, it’s necessary to try several medications to identify one that works well without too many undesired effects.
- CBT is generally considered safe.
- Light therapy sometimes has side effects such as dizziness, nausea, headaches, or tired eyes. This form of treatment may not be appropriate for people with diseases of the retina, recent eye surgery, or bipolar disorder or those who are taking medicines that increase sensitivity to light.
- Some dietary supplements may have side effects or interact with medicines. St. John’s wort is known to interact in harmful ways with a large number of medicines. Some vitamins, including vitamin D, may be toxic if taken in excessive doses. It’s a good idea to talk with your health care provider about any dietary supplement you’re considering or taking, especially if you take medicine.
For More Information
The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
Toll-free in the U.S.: 1-888-644-6226
Telecommunications relay service (TRS): 7-1-1
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends email)
Know the Science
NCCIH and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide tools to help you understand the basics and terminology of scientific research so you can make well-informed decisions about your health. Know the Science features a variety of materials, including interactive modules, quizzes, and videos, as well as links to informative content from Federal resources designed to help consumers make sense of health information.
A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.
This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.
NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.