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What are the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder?

Although there is no specific diagnostic test for the illness, it is understood that since it is a form of depression, the symptoms of the condition include tiredness, fatigue, sadness or a sense of general discontent, crying spells, irritability, apathy, trouble concentrating, body aches, loss of sex drive, poor sleep, decreased activity level, and appetite changes, particularly overeating, especially of carbohydrates and weight gain. When the condition occurs during the summer, the symptoms are more commonly insomnia, poor appetite, and weight loss, in addition to anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and crying spells. Social isolation, with the potential resulting loneliness, also occurs at times with summer seasonal affective disorder. If the condition is severe, it can be associated with thoughts of suicide.

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder typically tend to begin in the fall each year, lasting until spring. The symptoms are more intense during the darkest months. Therefore, the more common months for the condition to occur will vary depending on how far away from the equator one lives.

Return to Seasonal Affective Disorder

See what others are saying

Comment from: Rhonda, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: October 14

I think it was over use that caused my hamstring injury. I went on a bike ride, up hills, went on a walk up hills and went on a hike, up hills. Then I drove a tractor for two days. On day three my leg just gave up! Such pain! So now it has been three weeks. I'm thinking I'd better go to a physical therapist to help me rehabilitate it. I can walk fine, I just can't do stairs, especially down! So frustrating!

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Comment from: Amanda, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: January 14

I am 35 and have SAD (seasonal affective disorder). My mom and grandma both have depression. I spend most weekends in the winter in my bed. All I want to do is sleep and eat carbs. I'm sad most of the time and very irritable. I'm on Celexa and it seems to help. I'm very fortunate that my husband picks up, does housework, and is a dad and mom to our children during these winter months. I work outside the home and hate getting up in the morning.

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Comment from: Ant, 13-18 (Patient) Published: January 20

My SAD first started in late September with mild anxiety. In early October, this escalated into what felt like a panic attack in the night. This left me nervous for weeks and with very high anxiety levels. This anxiety continued in waves making me quite depressed and caused withdraw from friends. Around Christmas I began to get aches in my lower back, back of my neck and mild headaches. I also developed an extreme lack of appetite. During this time I had crying spells, fatigue and a constant background feeling of anxiety and fear for no apparent reason. My sex drive and emotions were very low. Getting up in the morning was very difficult. Going to work however often made me feel a lot better, keeping my mind busy. Weekends, particularly Sunday evenings feel worst, when my mind is allowed to dwell on feeling SAD.

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