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Seasonal Depression (SAD)

Seasonal Depression Overview

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is tied to seasons of the year. Historical facts about SAD include that as early as 400 BC, Hippocrates described changes in seasons as causing illness. By 200 years later, light therapy was being recommended as treatment for people described as "lethargics" or suffering from "gloom." Most people with SAD are depressed only during the late fall and winter (sometimes called the "winter blues") and not during the spring or summer. That many cultures celebrate a number of holidays during the winter can be an additional stress for people with SAD. A small number of SAD sufferers, however, are depressed only during the late spring and summer. In contrast to SAD, other forms of recurrent depression, like bipolar or unipolar depression, occur independently of the time of year.

SAD is most common in young adult women, although it can affect men or women of any age. Statistics about this disorder include that SAD may affect as many as six of every 100 people in North America, more in the northern portions of the country than in the South. Another 10%-20% of people may have a milder form of seasonal mood change.

Like all types of clinical depression, SAD can have a devastating effect on a person's life. Fortunately, almost all people with SAD can be helped with available therapies.

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