Seasonal Affective Disorder: A Winter Depression


Have the winter months of the year brought on feelings of hopelessness? Do you have difficulty doing the normal activities that usually interest you? If so, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. SAD is a seasonal depression that is believed to be caused by a lack of sunlight, which can upset your biological clock and the serotonin levels in your brain. To be diagnosed with SAD, you would have to have been depressed during the same season and have gotten better when the seasons changed for at least two years in a row. Having a close relative with SAD also makes you more susceptible to the disorder. Most people with SAD begin to have symptoms around fall time, in September or October, and feel better around spring time, by April or May.

Symptoms include:

  • “Empty” or hopeless feelings
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Increased feelings of fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or problems with oversleeping
  • Changes in weight (usually increase)
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

SAD is commonly treated with light therapy, which is an exposure to light that is brighter than indoor light but not as bright as direct sunlight. Since nearly half of the people suffering with SAD do not respond to light therapy alone, antidepressant medications and talk therapy have been used to treat the disorder as well. A person suffering from SAD can either do a combination of treatments, or just one of the treatments on its own.

If you believe that you or a loved one has or may have seasonal affective disorder, the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling can help you. Contact our Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices respectively at (201)-368-3700 or (212)-722-1920 to set up an appointment.

Visit for more information.


“Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)-Topic Overview.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d.

“” Seasonal Affective Disorder. N.p., n.d.

“Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder and Depression.” WebMD. WebMD, 14 Nov. 2014.

By: Margalit Herzfeld


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