Expert's Corner: Winter’s dark makes some especially SAD

By Bryan Goodchild

UMass Medical School Communications

December 16, 2013

If someone sinks into depression each year in the fall or early winter, then regains good cheer in the spring, he or she could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, more commonly known as SAD. More than the winter blahs, SAD is a form of major depression that affects 10 percent of the population. According to Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Kristina Deligiannidis, MD, while genetic predisposition and preexisting depressive disorders can contribute to SAD, it is widely believed to result from the decrease in natural sunlight that occurs during the winter months, with the greatest incidence in northerly climes like ours.

SAD patients experience symptoms including sadness, loss of pleasure, irritability and—especially characteristic of seasonal depression—excessive sleepiness day and night, along with increased appetite that can result in weight gain. “These symptoms together significantly impact functioning,” said Dr. Deligiannidis, who is director of the Depression Specialty Clinic at UMass Memorial Medical Center. “Up to 10 percent of sufferers require hospitalization due to the severity of their symptoms.”

Fortunately, treatments for SAD are available. View the complete interview with Dr. Deligiannidis to learn more.

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