Seasonal Affective Disorder | Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of SAD?

Although your symptoms are clues to the diagnosis, not everyone who has SAD experiences the same symptoms. Common symptoms of winter-onset SAD (90% of people who have SAD) include the following:

  • A change in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods
  • Weight gain
  • A drop in energy level
  • Fatigue
  • A tendency to oversleep
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Increased sensitivity to social rejection
  • Avoidance of social situations and a loss of interest in the activities you used to enjoy
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feelings of hopelessnes
  • Physical problems, such as headaches

Symptoms of summer-onset SAD (10% of people who have SAD) include:

  • A loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Agitation

Symptoms of SAD tend to come back year after year. They also usually come and go at about the same time every year. The changes in mood are not necessarily related to obvious things that would make a certain season stressful (like regularly being unemployed during the winter, for example).

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 09/12
Created: 09/00

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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Overview

Symptoms

Treatment

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