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Seasonal Affective Disorder Effects Over 3 million People in the U.S.


By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna


November 28, 2022 (San Diego) -- Feeling an onset of sadness? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of mood disorder associated with seasonal changes. Commonly seen as depression arising during the winter months, it happens due to a disturbance in the circadian system of the body.



SAD is said to occur due to changes in the body’s internal clock, and changes in brain and body's chemicals.




Feeling depressed on most days, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, reduced energy, concentration, and interest in activities especially during winters are the commonly noted symptoms.




Diagnosis is based on detailed medical history and thorough psychiatric evaluation. Doctor may also suggest some tests to rule out other medical conditions.




  • Treatable & diagnosed by a medical professional
  • Often requires lab test or imaging
  • Can last several months or years
  • Common for ages 18-35
  • Family history may increase likelihood
  • Most cases of SAD begin during late fall or early winter and go away during spring or summer
  • Sadness
  • Reduced energy
  • Loss of concentration and interest in activities
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Trouble sleeping/oversleeping
  • Nausea, loss of appetite/craving for fatty or carbohydrate rich foods
  • Weight loss/weight gain
  • Suicidal thoughts




The exact cause for SAD is not known but some of the factors that are said to influence the condition include: Changes in the body’s internal clock due to seasonal changes. Reduced levels of the brain chemical serotonin. An imbalance in the chemical melatonin that influences sleep and mood patterns. Vitamin D insufficiency.


Your doctor may also suggest some tests to rule out other medical conditions such as;


Blood test

May be recommended to determine the blood cell counts, check for infections, or other medical conditions such as thyroid problems.


Psychological examination

Mental health professionals use question-answer type tools for evaluating and assessing the patient’s disorder.



Light therapy, medications, and psychotherapy are the treatments available for SAD. It is important to let the doctor know of your other medical conditions, including bipolar disorder, to avoid any side effects from any of the medications or therapies.




If untreated, complications may include:


  • Social withdrawal
  • Drug or substance abuse




  • Follow a healthy, nutritious diet
  • Monitor your mood and energy levels
  • Take adequate rest
  • Learn to manage stress
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Try and connect with people to avoid loneliness
  • Take a trip to cooler or warm locations depending on the type of SAD you have


Questions To Ask Your Doctor


  • Do I have to make any changes to my diet or lifestyle?
  • How do I manage my symptoms?
  • Can I have a family with this condition?
  • What are the likely chances that this will be passed on to my children?


Foods to eat:


  • Vitamin D rich foods: e.g. fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, rainbow trout, fish oil, fortified milk, egg yolk
  • Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids: e.g. oily, fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon, sardines, anchovies, flaxseed, hemp, canola, and walnut oils
  • Berries: e.g. blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
  • Foods rich in folic acid: e.g. leafy greens, oatmeal, sunflower seeds, oranges, fortified cereals, lentils, black-eyed peas, and soybeans


Foods to avoid:


  • Sugary foods


For informational purposes only. Consult your medical professional or a licensed qualified therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist for advice.


Source: Focus Medica


*Note: The information in this article was compiled from various sources. These suggestions are not a complete list of every preventative or loss control measure. This information is not intended to replace additional safety manuals or the advice of another qualified professional(s). We make no guarantee of results from the use of this information. We assume no liability in connection with the information nor the suggestions made.

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