Seasonal affective disorder

Medically Reviewed by Dr Sravya, MBBS, MS 


Among depressions, seasonal affective disorder is one that normally starts and ends around the same times each year and is closely related to seasonal changes. The majority of SAD sufferers experience symptoms that start in the autumn and last into the winter, depleting their energy and causing mood changes. On the other hand, these symptoms typically go away in the spring and summer. In fewer instances, SAD triggers depression in the spring or early summer, which then improves in the autumn or winter. The use of drugs, psychotherapy, and light therapy (phototherapy) as a form of treatment is a possibility.

Don’t write off that recurring feeling as merely the “winter blues” or a temporary low that you must deal with on your own. Instead, make an effort to be positive and upbeat throughout the entire year by making proactive efforts.

Many people occasionally go through moments of sadness or change from who they usually are. Sometimes, these mood swings coincide with the changing of the seasons. Fall and winter might cause people to feel a little sad; this is known as the “winter blues” and it usually passes as soon as spring, with its longer days, arrives.

seasonal affective disorder

These mood swings can, however, occasionally be more severe and have an effect on a person’s emotions, cognition, and day-to-day functioning. It’s possible that you have the seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression, if you’ve seen significant changes in your mood and behavior that coincide with seasonal variations.

Winter-pattern SAD or winter depression is the term used to describe SAD symptoms that often appear in late autumn or early winter and fade with the coming of spring and summer. Less frequently, people experience summer depression or summer-pattern SAD, which is characterized by depressive episodes during the spring and summer. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is not considered to be a separate condition; rather, it is considered to be a subtype of depression that lasts for 4 to 5 months yearly. 

As a result, SAD includes the typical symptoms and indicators of serious depression as well as unique traits that differ between SAD with a winter pattern and SAD with a summer trend.

Table of Contents


SAD symptoms typically appear in late autumn or early winter and subside with the coming of longer, sunnier days in the spring and summer. On the other hand, some people encounter a less typical pattern where symptoms start in the spring or summer. No matter the timing, symptoms can start off mild and get worse as the season goes on.

Following are examples of the condition’s signs and symptoms:

Winter and autumn SAD

Winter depression, or seasonal affective disorder with a winter onset, may present with the following symptoms:

Summer and spring SAD

The following are examples of symptoms specific to summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes known as summer depression:

Bipolar Disorder and Seasonal Changes

Seasonal affective disorder is more likely to impact people with bipolar disorder. Bipolar patients occasionally notice a correlation between mania episodes and specific seasons. For instance, the onset of spring and summer might result in the onset of hypomania, a milder type of manic symptoms, as well as feelings of agitation, restlessness, and worry. On the other hand, in the autumn and winter, they can experience depressive spells.

When to Consult a Physician

It’s normal to experience occasional depression, but if you find yourself routinely having bad moods for long stretches of time, It’s best to speak with your doctor if you find it difficult to appreciate activities that used to make you joyful. This becomes especially important if your eating and sleeping habits have changed if alcohol is being used as a coping method, or if you are struggling with feelings of hopelessness or are considering self-harm.


Although the exact causes of seasonal affective disorder are still unknown, a number of factors, such as:

Risk Elements

SAD is more frequently diagnosed in women than in men, and younger people are more likely to be affected than older people.

Your chance of having seasonal affective disorder may rise as a result of the causes listed below:


Seasonal affective disorder symptoms and indications must be taken seriously because, like other types of depression, they can worsen and lead to consequences if ignored.

These potential problems include:


There is currently no proven way to delay the onset of seasonal affective disorder. But taking action when symptoms first appear may help stop them from getting worse over time. You might be able to lessen these shifts by foreseeing the seasons during which mood, appetite, and energy levels normally alter. Early diagnosis and treatment, especially when started before symptoms worsen, can be helpful in preventing problems.
For some people, starting treatment before the traditional autumn or winter symptom onset and continuing it past the typical resolution period may be useful. On the other hand, some people might require continuing care to keep symptoms under control and stop them from returning.