It is not uncommon for people to experience short periods sadness when the seasons change. As we go further into autumn and through winter, some people start to experience 'the winter blues'.

If these experiences of sadness and mood changes are more intense and affect our daily activity, this may be a sign of seasonal affective disorder, which is a type of depression.

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (commonly referred to as SAD) cover quite a wide range. They usually start in autumn-winter time and are not present during the spring and summer months.


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What Are The Symptoms Of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is considered a type of depression, rather than an independent diagnosis. It's characterised by its recurrent pattern of symptoms; every autumn-winter they may appear, due to the low light levels of this period. As it's a type of depression, symptoms are closely related and there are only a few that are specific for SAD.

Here we have the list of symptoms for depression:

  • A persistent low mood
  • A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • Feeling sluggish or irritable, having difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Tearfulness
  • Feeling stressed or anxious
  • A reduced sex drive
  • Experiencing changes in appetite or weight
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleep
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

And the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, specifically:

  • Oversleeping (hypersomnia)
  • Overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates
  • Social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”)
  • Weight gain

The intensity that people experience these symptoms varies. Some people's lives are severely impacted by SAD, whereas others experience milder symptoms. Also, not every person with Seasonal Affective Disorder will experience all of the above symptoms.  

Now you know what the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder are. If you have other questions, you can check out our FAQ tag. If you want to learn more about stress and anxiety, both related to depression, why not try out Pocketcoach (for free).


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Information correct at the time of publishing, from:

National Institute Of Mental Health

National Health Service