Seasonal Affective Disorders
Characteristic symptoms of SAD are those of depression, which include dysphoria, feeling low, decreased in energy and activity, increased irritability, concentration difficulties, anxiety, decreased libido and social withdrawal. Unlike classically depressed patients, most SAD patients develop ‘atypical’ symptoms of increased fatigue, increased sleep duration and increased appetite and weight. Not only do SAD patients crave carbohydrates, but also they actually report eating more carbohydrate-rich foods in the winter1.
A study point out that patients are more disturbed by the lethargy and fatigue than by the mood changes themselves, especially in the early phases of their winter depression, therefore often seeking the help of a physician rather than a psychiatrist6. Untreated, SAD episodes generally resolve by springtime, although some do not fully recover before the early summer. Many patients reported that travel to latitudes nearer the equator resulted in remission or diminishing of their symptoms3.
Winter SAD is also seen in children, who present with fatigue, irritability, difficulty getting out of bed in the morning and school problems7. The seasonal pattern of summer is opposite to that of winter SAD with reversal of their winter symptoms in summer.