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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Symptoms

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are like the symptoms of normal depression. But they occur repetitively at a particular time of year.

They usually start in the autumn or winter and improve in the spring.

The nature and severity of SAD varies from person-to-person.

Some people just find the condition a bit irritating. For others, it can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day life.

Depression

Most people with SAD will feel depressed during the autumn and winter.

Signs that you may be depressed include:

  • a persistent low mood
  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • feeling irritable
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • low self-esteem
  • tearfulness
  • feeling stressed or anxious
  • a reduced sex drive
  • becoming less sociable

A small number of people have these symptoms in phases that are separated by "manic" periods. During these, they feel happy, energetic and much more sociable.

Related topics

Low mood and depression

Other symptoms

You may also:

  • be less active than normal
  • feel lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
  • sleep for longer than normal and find it hard to get up in the morning
  • find it difficult to concentrate
  • have an increased appetite

These symptoms may make everyday activities increasingly difficult.

When to see your GP

Talk to your GP if you think you might have SAD and you're finding it difficult to cope.

There are a number of helpful treatments your GP may be able to recommend.

Page last reviewed: 23/09/2018
Next review due: 23/09/2021

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