At first, symptoms are mild, but gradually increase in intensity. The symptoms of SAD include, but are not limited to, depression include oversleeping,daytime fatigue, carbohydrate craving and weight gain, features of depression, especially decreased sexual interest, lethargy, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, lack of interest in normal activities, and social withdrawal.
I have had several patients over the years report increasing episodes of SAD and SAD like symptoms. Most studies report the disorder stems primarily from the shortening of days and daylight during the winter months causing a lowered production of serotonin in the brain. Other studies report the symptoms stem from the colder temperatures and lack of color of vegetation in the Northern hemispheres. In either event, SAD is a very real and often painful disorder. SAD is often misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, infectious mononucleosis, and other viral infections.
There are many different treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder, including bright light therapy, medication, ionized-air administration ,cognitive-behavioral therapy and carefully timed supplementation of the hormone melatonin. Also, a minor dose of an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) such as Lexapro, Paxil, or Zoloft may prove to be beneficial.
If you are feeling the signs and symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, do not hesitate to contact your primary care physician for viable treatment options.