Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
It may have an oddly appropriate acronym, but seasonal affective disorder—SAD—is a serious mood disorder and is considered a type of depression, according to the Mayo Clinic. The onset usually coincides with late fall or early winter, when the days are shorter and there’s less natural light. A new study in Translational Psychiatry found that one gene in particular could be to blame for a heightened risk of seasonal depression. Here are the signs, symptoms, and treatments that everyone should know about SAD. And read up on summer seasonal affective disorder too, which is also a thing.
What’s your latitude?
“The prevalence of SAD increases the further people live from the equator,” says psychiatrist Norman Rosenthal, MD, one of the first doctors to identify and write about seasonal affective disorder. “In one study of people at four different locations in the U.S., for example, my colleagues and I found that in Florida, the prevalence of SAD was only 1.5 percent of the population, whereas in New Hampshire, it was almost 10 percent.”
If you’re in a place where it’s dark when you leave for work and dark when you head home—northern latitudes—your risk is higher. Find some outdoor activities that will get you sun exposure on weekends, and consider a winter trip to a warm, sunny destination. That sun exposure will also help boost your levels of vitamin D, a powerful SAD antidote. Put vitamin D on the menu with these top ten vitamin D–rich foods.