Diagnosing and Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that corresponds with the changing of the seasons. This most often occurs during the winter and fall months, but it can occur in the spring and summer as well. People with SAD experience depression around the same time each year, and they are often unaware of the underlying issue. Thankfully, there are treatment options available to improve SAD symptoms.

Let’s take a look at the signs of and treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder, courtesy of Urban Balance counseling centers.

Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Typically, the signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder appear in the late fall, when the days get shorter and the weather turns colder. However, someone with spring/summer SAD may see a change when the days get warmer and longer. The symptoms may be mild at first and heighten during the peak of the season. Then they taper off when the weather begins to shift again.

Some signs of SAD include:

  • Low energy levels
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Social withdrawal

These symptoms may also persist with general depressive. With SAD, the symptoms become more intense during a certain time of year.

What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

The direct cause of SAD remains unknown. Many speculate that it has to do with the limited sunlight in the winter months. Many of the brain’s “happy” chemicals rely on sunlight for fuel. SAD may also have to do with disruptions in sleeping patterns, which come from the changes in sunlight. The holidays in the winter months are yet another potential trigger, as many people feel enhanced depression symptoms around this time of year. Regardless of the circumstances, there are treatments available.

Diagnosing Seasonal Affective Disorder

The most common way to diagnose Seasonal Affective Disorder is through psychological testing. A licensed psychologist will perform an evaluation to determine the underlying condition, if any. The psychologist will assess the person’s feelings, thoughts, behavioral patterns, and overall experiences to identify SAD or any other condition that may be present.

Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder

The treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder vary depending on the person’s symptoms and triggers. In many cases, a person can treat SAD with individual counseling. A therapist who specializes in SAD treatment can find personalized solutions to treat depression, anxiety, and other struggles a person may be going through.

Other treatments may include light therapy or medication, such as antidepressants. After a psychological evaluation, we can determine which treatment path is ideal for you. If you are interested in SAD treatment, psychological testing or depression counseling, contact Urban Balance at (888) 726-7170. Our multidisciplinary staff covers a wide range of specialties, and we will gladly assist you in any way we can.