Seasonal Affective Disorder: 5 Common Myths

Woman sitting on the couch with a blanket

You have likely heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, especially if you live in areas with decreased daylight hours during the fall and winter months. Even if you have heard about it, it can be confusing to know what’s true and what is simply an “I heard that it was …..”

Here are 5 common SAD myths:

SAD is the same as Winter Blues

While SAD and the Winter Blues may be two terms that are used interchangeable (and arguably do have some similarities), they are not the same.  Winter Blues typically occur only during a short part of the year and can be significantly improved with some changes to your lifestyle (like getting more exercise and using light therapy).  

SAD is a form of clinical depression.  It typically occurs during the fall and winter months, but can occur all year.  Treatment for this may include medication, psychologist, and light therapy.

SAD only occurs in the winter

The majority of SAD sufferers experience the condition in the fall and winter, but approximately 1/10 also have symptoms in the spring and summer.

Fall/Winter SAD is characterized by hypersomnia and increased appetite (especially carbohydrates).

Spring/Summer SAD displays typical depressive symptoms including insomnia and loss of appetite.

SAD is unique to women

Man trimming beard in mirror

Women comprise anywhere from 60-90% of those suffering from SAD (depending on the study referenced).  The condition can develop at any age, but those over the age of 30 are more susceptible as a result of hormonal changes.  

Men experience this condition less frequently, but they are also susceptible.

SAD isn’t a real or serious condition

SAD is classified by the DSM as a recurrent, seasonal pattern of depressive episodes.  It is a serious condition requiring a clinical diagnosis and can severely hinder one’s quality of life and ability to perform normal activities.  

SAD isn’t treatable

SAD is absolutely treatable.  It should be diagnosed by a licensed professional, but light therapy, lifestyle changes and medication are frequently used methods to treat this condition.

To sum it all up ...

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a difficult, clinical condition, but one that can be treated.  If you feel "off" in the fall and winter months, seeing a licensed professional will help you determine if you are suffering from the Winter Blues or from SAD. The good (great, actually) is that there are plenty of ways to treat both conditions (including.. Light therapy!).  

Woman using verilux happylight in the bathroom

If you are interested in how others have managed these conditions, check out How Kathryn Won Against SADHow Morgan Beat the Winter Blues, or Kate's Severe Case of the Winter Blues

Also in Light Reading

HappyLight under the Christmas tree
2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Giving that perfect gift can be tough. With so many choices, figuring out where to start can seem daunting. To make things a little easier, we took all of our favorites and created the perfect holiday gift guide!  

View full article →

The Invisible Battle: Fighting Depression With Light Therapy
The Invisible Battle: Fighting Depression With Light Therapy

Depression is an illness that effects 7.2% of the U.S. adult population, with service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan experiencing depression rates of up to 18.5%.  Light therapy has been shown to reduce the symptoms of both seasonal and non-seasonal depression, without the need for pharmaceutical treatment.

View full article →

Giving Back This Veterans Day - Join Us In Helping Our Nation's Veterans!
Giving Back This Veterans Day - Join Us In Helping Our Nation's Veterans!

We are proud to announce a donation of 100 HappyLight® Luxe light therapy lamps and 10% donation of profits on Veterans Day (November 11, 2019) to Team Red, White & Blue.  Team RWB is a veteran-led organization dedicated to helping veterans through a positive focus on health, people and purpose!

View full article →