Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression where a patient experiences mood shifts at the same time every year. It usually happens in the fall and winter months. Doctors aren’t sure what causes it, although changes in hormones and lack of sunlight are though to impact it. This form of depression is often trivialized and not discussed often, which leads people to dismiss it or believe myths. Here are 8 things you should know about SAD and the people it affects.
1. It Affects Around 10 Million Americans
This number could be even higher as many people sum up their seasonal depression as “winter blues” and it goes undiagnosed.
2. Women Are More Affected
SAD is 4 times more common in women than men, and it’s estimated that 60-90% of all people with seasonal depression are female.
3. It’s More Common Further From The Equator
SAD is more common in people that live further south and north of the equator. This is partly what causes doctors to believe the amount of sunlight is a major factor.
4. It’s Happens In The Summer Too
While most people with SAD are affected during the winter months, there is a rare form of seasonal depression that is called Summer Depression.
5. It Was Only Recently Recognized
SAD was only officially recognized as a mental condition in 1984 when Norman E. Rosenthal formally described it. People were aware of SAD before this though, but most people summed it up as “winter blues”.
6. It Can Be Serious
People with SAD usually experience mild-moderate symptoms, but in more serious cases it can lead to suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
7. It Runs In Families
Like other mental disorders, seasonal affective disorder seems to run in families. People with SAD usually have at least one close family member that is affected by it as well.
8. Age Matters
Most people don’t experience seasonal depression until after the age of 20, but children and teens can experience it too. The good news is that SAD decreased as you get older.