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Seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of mood change that is related to a determined season of the year; it is especially prevalent in the months of winter when days are shorter, it gets dark earlier, the weather is bad; cold and the lack of light affect mood in many people. If the feelings of depression and lack of interest last longer than a couple of weeks, it is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and in winter, winter depression.


The symptoms generally intensify slowly towards the end of autumn and in the winter months. They are usually the same as presented in other depressions:

  • Hopelessness
  • Increased appetite with weight gain (weight loss is more common with other forms of depression)
  • Increased sleep (too little sleep is more common with other forms of depression)
  • Less energy and ability to concentrate
  • Loss of interest in work or other activities
  • Sluggish movements
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unhappiness and irritability


SAD can sometimes become long-term depression. Bipolar disorder or thoughts of suicide are also possible.


Seasonal affective disorder, and therefore, winter depression, can be prevented. Serotonin production should be promoted by getting outside and doing any kind of sport or activity. Treatment of depressive symptoms when combining regular exercise with bright light therapy has been shown to be effective in activating serotonin, in addition to eating foods rich in carbohydrates and tryptophan (fish).

Gene or region studied

  • OPN4
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