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Seasonal Affective Disorder

By Cassie

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of clinical depression that’s linked to the winter season. It is a fairly common form of depression, and can cause people to feel tired, depressed, or irritable, and may affect appetite or cause aches and pains. In Coping With the Seasons: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach to Seasonal Affective Disorder, Dr. Kelly J. Rohan provides hope for those affected by this depression. In the following excerpt, she describes the four general categories of symptoms of SAD.

The symptoms of SAD fall into four general categories in terms of how they affect someone:

  1. Physical symptoms (how SAD affects your health and body): Low energy, appetite changes (craving starches or sugars), increase in appetite, weight gain or loss, muscle tension, pain, stomachache, headache, sensations of being weighted down or walking through water.
  2. Emotional symptoms (how SAD affects how you feel emotionally): Depressed or anxious mood, sadness, feeling blue, decreased enjoyment or interest in things previously liked, irritable mood.
  3. Cognitive symptoms (how SAD affects what you think about): Trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, thoughts about being worthless or a failure, negative thoughts about winter (e.g., “I can’t cope with with,” “I hate winter,” and “Winter is never going to end”), thoughts about death or suicide.
  4. Behavioral symptoms (how SAD affects what you do): Less active, withdrawing from others, crying, sleep problems (oversleeping, napping, insomnia, or restless sleep), changes in eating (overeating, excessive carbohydrate consumption, or eating less).

Notice that these categories cover a variety of symptoms and include some that are even polar opposites (e.g., increase in appetite and loss of appetite). Any two people with SAD can have different symptoms.

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