SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. Most of my patients complain that their symptoms begin in the fall, continuing through the winter and end in the Spring.  However,  some patients feel SAD in the spring or early summer.

Symptoms of SAD include:

  • Irritability
  • Low energy
  • Low mood
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications. Light boxes can be easily purchased on the internet and should be used upon waking.  Some of my patients will sit in front of their light box while having their breakfast, checking their email or enjoying their first cup of coffee.  Although most light box companies recommend 20-30 minutes of light exposure, I do believe any exposure is better than none.

A common medication prescribed for SAD is Wellbutrin.  I have written about Wellbutrin before as it can help with arousal, lubrication, and orgasm difficulties.  My patients will often notice that they do not experience SAD anymore and their orgasms improve…not a bad combination!

As always, please check with your medical provider before starting treatment. Using a light box can cause mania in patients with bipolar disorder.