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.
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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.