A Closer Look At Seasonal Affective Disorder

Published on September 18th, 2018

Updated on January 2nd, 2024

A Closer Look At Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder is a term that refers to seasonal depression. Seasonal depression is a specifier of major depressive disorder. It causes a person to experience a depressed mood during the colder months of the year.

During these months, days are shorter, there is less daylight, and it can be too cold to spend time outside. Each of these components can contribute to a person suffering from this condition.

Depressed symptoms associated with seasonal affective disorder diminish at the turn of the seasons. They may be mostly absent during warmer, lighter months of the year.

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In rare cases, a person will experience this condition in reverse. They experience symptoms of a depressed mood during the Spring and Summer seasons.

While uncommon, it is possible to have a depressed mood during the more active seasons. These seasons tend to bring more socialization, relaxation, and daylight.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

People with seasonal affective disorder experience symptoms when the weather begins to change. Whether it becomes colder or warmer, the change in the weather triggers a depressed mood.

With this depressed mood comes uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms will persist through the triggering season. They are uncomfortable and can be powerful. However, they can be treated if they are properly identified.

A case of seasonal affective disorder will subside during certain seasons of the year. These are the seasons that the affected person enjoys.

Symptoms for seasonal affective disorder include:

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Risk Factors of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal depression does not affect everyone. It is triggered by the seasons changing. Some people are perfectly fine with the changing seasons. Those with this condition will dread the change.

There are risk factors that can increase the risk of seasonal affective disorder. The condition may stem from different issues that are unique to the affected person.

Seasonal depression is not the same as times when unusual stressors are present. It is a reaction to the adverse season and not life stressors that may be associated with the season.

Some people get depressed because of things that happen during certain times of the year. This is not the same as suffering from the condition.

Example: An account may struggle with the winter months because tax season is the busiest time of the year for them.

Causes and risk factors include:

Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder

There are treatment options available for seasonal affective disorder. Treatment will reflect the underlying causes of their condition. It will be catered to the needs of the individual.

Treatment will also address any other contributing mental health issues or life stressors. Mental health conditions that may be present with seasonal affective disorder include:

Treatment of seasonal affective disorder may include any of the following techniques:


Someone who suffers from seasonal depression may be prescribed antidepressant medication. The medication will help to manage symptoms during the season.

A person with seasonal depression may also take vitamins and supplements. This is intended to compensate for the Vitamin-D deficiency and mood swings.


Phototherapy, or light therapy, may be recommended. It is used to compensate for the low light hours of the seasons. The affected person is asked to sit with a special light reflecting on them each day. This is done to simulate daylight.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT helps to challenge negative and upsetting thoughts. This helps to manage depressing thoughts during certain seasons of the year.

CBT helps to remind the affected person that their thoughts are triggered by the seasons. They are not based on reality. This method offers perspective. It helps to challenge negative internal dialog.

Dialectical-behavioral therapy (DBT)

DBT teaches mindfulness techniques to cope with depressed moods. It uses the following techniques to teach mood regulation skills and coping strategies:

  • Meditation
  • Expressive therapies
  • Mind-body awareness
  • Mindfulness
  • Each of these techniques can help with coping with the condition.

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