Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD as it is known by many, is a type of depression related to the dark gloom of fall and winter with shorter days and less sunlight. SAD is exacerbated by a decrease in activity level that is generally created in the cold winter months. The symptoms are largely the same but not as severe as for other depressive disorders including poor sleep and fatigue, crying spells, irritability, poor concentration, weight gain and loss of sex drive. In some severe cases, seasonal affective disorder can also be associated with thoughts of suicide.

Though symptoms usually improve in the summer, many people have found relief from the use of full spectrum lighting in their homes. These lights come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be easily found on the internet. Probably the least expensive of these is the 27-watt full spectrum CFL bulb which can be placed strategically in fixtures and lamps throughout one’s residence. These are effective when used on a daily basis. Sometimes, however, these lights are simply not enough. In these cases, many of my clients have found relief by taking an antidepressant for a period of time and by increasing the level of physical exercise especially cardio work.


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Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

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