We all get a touch of the winter blues when the days get shorter and the weather gets cold. For people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), this low can take the form of a debilitating depression that can interfere with their working life and relationships, leading to serious mental health problems. Seasonal affective disorder is also quite controversial; people affected by depression in the winter are convinced it is a real health condition but some health professionals are less sure.
This article on seasonal affective disorder is written by Kathryn Senior, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
What is seasonal affective disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder is defined as depression that comes and goes with the changing seasons. It is most often experienced during the winter months, starting in September and those affected report that it peaks in January and February before easing as spring arrives. Some people claim to be affected by seasonal affective disorder only in the summer months, but this is much rarer.
In the UK, seasonal affective disorder is estimated to affect around 5% of the population – that’s 3 million people. Many of these only experience fairly mild symptoms, known as the ‘winter blues’ or sub-syndromal seasonal affective disorder.