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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Season Affective Disorder (SAD) involves episodes of depressive symptoms that occur during certain times of the year (most often, during the winter when it is colder and there is less sunlight).  Symptoms of SAD may begin in the teen or young adult years, so are important for college students to be alert to.

Symptoms may include some of these:

  • Increased appetite, often involving craving sweet or starchy food, and often with associated weight gain
  • Increased sleep; daytime sleepiness despite adequate night time sleep
  • Fatigue; depleted energy; lethargy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Decreased interest and/or enjoyment in work, school, or other usual activities
  • Withdrawal from social interaction; isolation
  • Mood that is more irritable or unhappy than usual
  • Women may experience an intensifying of premenstrual symptoms

SAD can only be diagnosed by medical or mental health professionals. At Luther, the Counseling Service or the Health Service are places that can help students learn to manage symptoms of SAD. A student does not need to know for sure that they have SAD to visit a professional in either of these offices, located on the lower level of Larsen Hall. Counseling and medical treatment (including light therapy when appropriate) are among the most useful methods of treating SAD and are available through the Health Service and the Counseling Service.

For more information, including a self assessment, go to the Center for Environmental Therapeutics