Five Surprising Facts about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Find out everything you need to know about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) with these five surprising facts.

December 27, 2018 | HF Healthy Living Team

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs due to lack of light, usually during the winter months. People affected by SAD often have trouble regulating their melatonin and serotonin levels, which control mood and sleep. As winter days become shorter, melatonin increases in the body, making those affected feel more tired, down, and even stressed.

The most common symptoms of SAD include sleep problems, low energy, changes in appetite or weight, losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, and difficulty focusing.

Click the photos below to learn some surprising facts about this common condition.

Women and Young Adults
Are at a Higher Risk


SAD affects 10 million Americans each year, and it is much more common in women and young adults in their early 20s. In some rare cases, it has even been seen in children and teens.


You Can Get SAD During Summer


Reverse SAD affects people in the summertime, but only one percent of the population. It is brought on by too much light, which also affects melatonin and serotonin levels. Summer SAD symptoms are similar to winter’s, but can include anxiety and episodes of violent behavior as well.


SAD Is Not the Same
as Bipolar Disorder


People often confuse bipolar disorder with SAD, since a change in seasons can influence serious cases of depression. But unlike other mental health disorders, SAD is only diagnosed if seasonal mood changes occur.


Vitamin D May
Play a Role in SAD


Research shows that vitamin D is not only effective for strong bones, but for SAD as well. Sunlight is necessary to produce vitamin D in the body, and since a lack of natural light is linked to SAD, studies show the two have a strong connection.


SAD Can Be Treated


Low energy is often associated with cravings for processed foods, so try to eat well-balanced meals and exercise regularly to boost your mood. Get as much sunlight as possible. Your doctor can also prescribe medicine or can talk to you about light therapy, a simple treatment used for SAD since the 1980s.


© 2018 HF Management Services, LLC.

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This health information or program is for educational purposes only and not intended to treat, diagnose, or act as a substitute for medical advice from your provider. Consult your healthcare provider and always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.

“Seasonal Affective Disorder,” National Institute of Mental Health. Accessed December 19, 2016.

“When Summer Makes You Sad,” Everyday Health. Accessed December 20, 2016.

“Seasonal Affective Disorder,” Psychology Today. Accessed December 21, 2016.

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