Seasonal affective disorder (or winter blues)

Although many people experience low periods in the autumn and winter, some people have a seasonal affective disorder which is a type of depression related to the reduced daylight during this period.  Seasonal affective disorder (or winter blues) primarily occurs in the months of January and February and it can be quite debilitating for some people and often characterised by:

  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Eating more than usual especially carbohydrates and this is often associated with significant weight gain.
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Depressed mood
  • Reduced motivation and libido
  • Difficulty concentrating

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder often resolve themselves in the spring and some people develop periods of hyperactivity or hypomania.  It is thought that an area of the brain called the hypothalamus is involved together with the hormones melatonin and serotonin.

Seasonal affective disorder treatment consists of a thorough psychiatric assessment followed by a possible combination of antidepressants, light therapy and psychotherapy.