Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects more than 14 million Americans, and it is related to changes in the seasons. Up until now the gold standard of treatment for SAD has been light therapy. That was up until a new study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health started pointing to cognitive-behavioral therapy as a better treatment.

46962614_sPublished online Friday in the American Journal of Psychiatry, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association, the study followed patients for several years noting the difference between cognitive-behavioral therapy and light therapy treatment. What researchers noticed was that those treated with cognitive behavioral therapy had higher remission rates with less recurrence than those treated with light therapy. These discrepancies were recorded during the second year of the study.

The standard treatment for SAD includes light therapy, psychotherapy and medications. Many people go undiagnosed and struggle through the winter months feeling like they just have to tough it out. That’s not true. If you have symptoms of SAD, you should make an appointment with your doctor and discuss the treatments.

So what are the symptoms of SAD? Most people first experience symptoms in the fall that continue through the winter months. Sometimes referred to as “winter depression” SAD has a variety of symptoms including moodiness, fatigue, low energy level and irritability. The physical symptoms can include weight gain, oversleeping, a change in appetite and arms and legs feeling heavy. Because SAD is a subtype of major depression it can have some of those symptoms too, including feeling hopeless or worthless, loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed, problems focusing, and even thoughts of death or suicide.

Know the symptoms of SAD and if you think you, a loved one or a friend might have it, seek out medical advice. The goal for treating SAD is to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.

Outcomes One and Two Winters Following Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Talk Therapy Better Than Light Treatment For Seasonal Affective Disorder

Information contained in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.


Originally available here