Sidebar Top
Back to Articles

Seasonal Affective Disorder


Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is caused by less sunlight during the long dark days of winter.


  • Depression. Feeling down, having the blues, feeling depressed for no reason.
  • A need for more sleep, feeling tired even after having eight to ten hours of sleep.
  • Low energy, poor motivation, less excitement, feeling listless and lethargic.
  • Weight gain caused by a combination of a lack of energy and exercise and craving for high carbohydrate and/or fatty foods.
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing for extended periods.
  • General malaise, not feeling well and unable to pinpoint the reason why.

Specific Causes

  • Lack of sunshine and light; however, you may also be suffering from any of a number of affective/mood disorders that may often worsen over the holidays, exhibited by poor sleep patterns.
  • This lack may come from the short hours of sunshine during the winter months, especially in northerly regions. It is aggravated by lack of adequate lighting in the environment, for instance homes with windows covered by heavy curtains, or offices away from windows.

Diagnostic Methods

  • Personal observation. Are you suffering from a combination of any of the symptoms listed above?
  • Comments from other people. Are people remarking on your lack of energy or your irritability? Perhaps someone has asked why you are down, irritable, unhappy, or depressed.



  • Antidepressants. Talk to your psychiatric provider who will be able to suggest & prescribe medication that will help you.
  • Psychotherapy. Talking to a counselor can help the sufferer take a second look at problems that may be making the depression worse.
  • Exercise. At least try. This especially helpful if you get outside and take a walk in the sunshine.
  • Lighting. Keep rooms bright with large windows.
  • Go out in the sun. As mentioned above, a short walk in the sunshine is just what you need. If this is impossible, then sit near a window in full sunlight.


Contact Rainier Professional Psychiatry