Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
APPETITE: People with SAD experience increased appetite and gain weight. They eat carbohydrate-rich
foods, such as breads, cakes, cookies, candy, potato chips, and other junk food, in the late afternoon and early evening.
They report regular gain and loss of up to 50 lbs. per year.
SLEEP: People with SAD experience hypersomnia. They
sleep 10 or more hours at night, take naps during the day, fight off falling asleep during the day, or feel all day like they
need to sleep. They go to sleep much earlier than usual, e.g., falling asleep in a chair after getting home from work. They
never feel rested and refreshed, even after a long night’s sleep, and have a hard time waking up, getting out of bed,
and getting going in the morning.
ACTIVITY LEVEL: People with SAD experience psychomotor retardation, that is,
a generalized slowing of physical and emotional reactions. They think, speak, and move noticeably more slowly than usual,
and may comment that they feel like their heads are full of mush or that they can’t follow even simple conversations.
SEASONALITY: People with SAD begin feeling depressed at a certain time of year and better at another time of year.
Although the prevalent pattern is depression in the fall and winter and normal mood in the spring and summer, some people
with SAD display the opposite pattern. Regardless of the pattern, most of their episodes of depression are seasonal rather
APPETITE: People with nonseasonal depression experience decreased appetite and weight loss. They complain everything
tastes bland and even their favorites foods don’t appeal to them any more. They may say that the mere thought of eating
makes them feel nauseated.
SLEEP: People with
nonseasonal depression experience insomnia. They have trouble falling asleep, wake up repeatedly through the night and have
trouble falling back to sleep, and/or wake up an hour or more earlier than they want to but are unable to fall back to sleep.
They feel exhausted during the day and yet are unable to fall asleep to take a nap.
ACTIVITY LEVEL: People with nonseasonal depression may experience either
psychomotor retardation or psychomotor agitation, that is, either a generalized slowing of physical and emotional reactions
or excessive movement and/or activity and feelings of restlessness.
People with nonseasonal depression begin feeling depressed and feeling better without regard to time of year. Even if they
experience multiple episodes of depression, there’s no relationship between the onset of these episodes and any certain
month or season of the year. Most of their episodes of depression are nonseasonal rather than seasonal.