By Holly Taylor BSc (Hons) DipCNM MBANT
SAD is a type of winter depression that affects an estimated 2 million people in the UK and Ireland. While SAD occurs throughout the northern and southern hemispheres, it is extremely rare in those living within 30 degrees of the Equator, where daylight hours are long, constant and extremely bright. Symptoms typically begin in September, increase in frequency over the next four months and reach a peak in January. The symptoms generally remain high in February and March, declining sharply in April and May. In some sufferers, symptoms may occur at other times of the year when reduced light levels are experienced, i.e. prolonged periods of dull weather in summer or low levels of light at home or at work. Some or all of the following symptoms may be present:
Symptoms can occur at any age but usually appear between the ages of 18 and 30. Some people with SAD can become clinically depressed but many will have a milder form, commonly referred to as “winter blues”. It is not known why some people succumb to SAD and others don’t. The disorder appears to be more common in women than in men.
Possible contributing factors
SAD symptoms may be made worse by other underlying conditions, such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
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