University Life Café

The Bookshelf → Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Preview Points

  • Melatonin, a sleep-related hormone, has been associated to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). For some people, their bodies create more melatonin when the hours of sunlight are shorter.
  • Melatonin is a hormone linked to depression.
  • People need to be aware of seasonal affective disorder in order to head off its effects.


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may lead some people to feel depressed during the fall and winter months, when sunlight is less. The most difficult months are January and February. Younger adults and women are thought to be at higher risk for developing symptoms. SAD may begin at any age, but the main age of onset is between 18 and 30 years.

Bright light therapy may be helpful for those who have symptoms of SAD.

The American Psychiatric Association writes: “Some evidence suggests that the farther someone lives from the equator, the more likely they are to develop SAD. For example, approximately 25 percent of the population at the middle-to-northern latitudes of the US experience winter doldrums, a sub-clinical level of SAD.” Some may have symptoms of SAD but still be fully functional in their lives.

Concluding Points

  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may be affected by the amount of light that a person gets.
  • If people feel depressed seasonally, they may want to check with a mental health professional about possible interventions.
  • Light therapy may be helpful for some. Getting outside as much as you are able, and spending time in natural sunlight may also relieve symptoms.


“Let’s talk facts about seasonal affective disorder.” (2006). American Psychiatric Association.

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