HEALTH MATTERS: Seasonal affective disorder: Shedding light on the wintertime blues

January 2005 
Volume 35  Number 1
Pages 18 - 18
  PDF Version Available!


  • Lethargy and depression

  • Lightening up

  • Teaching tips for SAD patients


  • Figure. Theorists be...

    SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD) is a mood disorder that comes on during darker winter months and spontaneously disappears in the spring. In the United States, it's more prevalent among people living north of 40 degrees of latitude, although native Alaskans are less likely to have SAD than people who move there.

    The best explanation for SAD is that it's a primitive biological response triggered by shortened photoperiods , or the amount of time per day that someone's exposed to light. Fewer hours of daylight extend production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin (see illustration). Excess melatonin secretion continues until spring, when days become brighter and longer.

    Lethargy and depression

    Besides sleepiness, the lack of energy associated ...

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