Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Individuals with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may suffer some or all of the following symptoms during the fall and winter. Occasionally, SAD occurs in summer, but with diminished, rather than increased, eating or sleeping symptoms.

  • Depression and/or pessimism about the future
  • Difficulty enjoying life and having fun
  • Loss of energy and fatigue
  • Increased need for sleep and having difficulty getting up in the morning
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired functioning: difficulty getting to work on time; tasks that are normally easy seem impossible
  • Increased appetite, weight gain
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Desire to avoid people or to be alone
  • Irritability, crying spells
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Suicidal thoughts, feelings, or even attempts

For children and adolescents symptoms may include:

  • Feeling tired and irritable
  • Temper tantrums
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Vague physical complaints
  • Marked cravings for junk food

See Your Doctor About SAD If:

You or your child suffers from some of these symptoms with the onset of fall and winter and they seem to diminish or dissipate as spring and summer approach.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on September 12, 2020



American Psychiatric Association. 

Magnusson, A. Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview, Chronobiol International, 2003. 

WebMD Medical Reference: "What is Seasonal Depression?"

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