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SAD/Low Mood

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The primary feature of seasonal affective disorder is a pattern of depressive episodes that occurs with the onset of the winter months. As the days become shorter, and the weather colder, there is an increase in vegetative depressive symptoms. Individuals eat more, crave carbohydrates, sleep more, experience chronic fatigue and gain weight. In pronounced cases, significant social withdrawal occurs as well. Some have described the pattern as a hibernation during the winter months.

The second part of the disorder is the tendency for these symptoms to go away once the days become longer and warmer in the Spring. Finally, this pattern of seasonal depression must be present for at least two consecutive years, without any occurrences of non-seasonal depression.

Dysthymic Disorder

Dysthymic Disorder is characterized by a chronic low mood, but with less severity than a major depression. The essential symptom for dysthymic disorder is an almost daily depressed mood for at least two years, but without the necessary criteria for a major depression. Low energy, sleep or appetite disturbances and low self-esteem are usually part of the clinical picture as well.

People who have dysthymic disorder will often report that they have always felt down as far back as they can remember, but they may be relatively functional in managing their life, although the symptoms are severe enough to make life miserable and may interfere with some life role responsibilities. It is important to have a complete physical to rule out any physical illnesses that might be causing the depression.

Despite the long term nature of this type of depression, there are effective tools in reducing the symptoms of depression, and assisting the person in managing his/her life better.

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