Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

The days are shorter, the weather is colder – and you are down in the dumps.

It’s easy to blame your bad mood on the lack of sunlight or the freezing air.

But how can you tell if you’re suffering from a bout of the winter blues?

Or if your symptoms are more serious, and a sign of seasonal affective disorder?

Now, a new infographic aims to shed light on the condition, which affects millions across the world.

Seasonal Affective Disorder – or SAD – is a type of depression associated with the fall and winter – thought to be caused by lack of light.

The infographic – from Illinois psychiatric healthcare treatment center Yellowbrick – revealed that the disorder affects 10 million Americans each year.

Furthermore, another one to two million people in the US may have a mild form of SAD.

As a result the disorder affects one in every 30 people in the US.

Seasonal affective disorder
Seasonal affective disorder

Nearly five times as many people were diagnosed with SAD than with cancer last year.

SAD sufferers are typically women – with females accounting for 60 to 90 per cent of the cases.

There isn’t any one specific test for the disorder.

Instead, doctors look at a patient’s history of seasonal depressive episodes.

Doctors also take a patient’s family history of the disorder into account, since it has been observed to run in families.

That means there is likely a genetic aspect to the disorder.

SAD is believed to be caused by a lack of exposure to light, though low vitamin D levels in the blood are also associated with the disorder.

Furthermore, 55 per cent of SAD sufferers have close relatives who have had severe depressive orders.

Another 34 per cent report having a close relative that has abused alcohol.

Seasonal affective disorder
Seasonal affective disorder

There are a number of false rumors floating around the concept of SAD, including the suggestion that SAD sufferers have other depressive conditions.

Additionally, many people falsely claim that anyone suffering from a lack of energy or other negative changes as the weather changes are suffering from SAD.

Because of the difficulty in diagnosing SAD, some experts declare that it is not a real disorder.

Instead, the infographic said: ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder is a serious depressive condition which is recognized as a legitimate mental disorder by a number of associations for various types of medical professionals.’

Some of the symptoms of SAD include tiredness, fatigue, irritability, depression, crying spells, loss of sex drive and more.

The disorder is commonly treated through phototherapy – which is the exposure to natural or artificial light each day.

It can also be treated through temporary or permanent relocation to a more hospitable climate or therapy.

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