What are the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) manifest themselves differently for different people.

Typical Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

The typical symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include decreased mood and low energy level, social withdrawal, low sex drive, anxiety, irritability, and inability to concentrate or be productive at work.

Symptoms Specific to SAD (and Not Other Types of Depression)

The “classic” SAD symptoms, which are considered atypical symptoms of non-seasonal depression, are the following: sleep problems, including changes in sleeping patterns (oversleeping and having poor sleep) and appetite changes (increased appetite, carbohydrate cravings, and subsequent weight gain).

SAD in Children and Young Adults

In children and teenagers, the symptoms are slightly different from those for adults. These symptoms include inability to concentrate as in adults, but also irritability, crying spells, anxiety, low energy and fatigue, difficulty in getting out of bed for school, and a lowering of grades and self-esteem.

Because these symptoms mirror the symptoms of laziness, attention deficit disorder (ADD), learning disabilities, or the stereotypical behavior of teenagers, it is important for parents to note whether these symptoms recur year after year during the fall and winter months, and whether they go away in the spring.