Mental Health

What Is Seasonal Depression? Causes, Symptoms & Treatments.

Seasonal depression

What Is Seasonal Depression?

Seasonal depression is a type of depression associated with changes in seasons, where it begin and end at about the same time each year. If someone is suffering from seasonal depression, the symptoms will begin in the fall and continue into the winter months. Seasonal depression reduces body energy and makes a person anxious. It will cause depression in the spring or early symptoms. This condition usually resolves within a few months and it can have a serious impact on how a person feels.


Though the exact cause of seasonal depression is unknown. Some factors include:

Unmatched Circadian Rhythm

The decreased level of sunlight in winters changes body rhythm and a person may feel depressed with the onset of winters.

Reduced Serotonin Level

Serotonin is a brain chemical that manages the mood of a person. When it lowers down due to reduced sunlight, depression can pop up.

Change In Melatonin Level

Sleep patterns and moods disrupt like anything when the melatonin level is not balanced in the human body.

Symptoms Of Seasonal Depression

People with seasonal depression sleep much more than usual and crave food mostly carbohydrates. Do not try to ignore these depression symptoms as this can be treated simply. They also have many of the signs and symptoms of seasonal depression. This includes:

1) Over Sleeping Or Difficulty In Sleeping

Usually, people start to sleep more than usual and it sometimes exceeds 14-16 hours a day. Some of them have the problem of sleeping during the time and they do not fall asleep until the favorable time of the day.

2) Overeating

People facing seasonal depression start to consume food more than usual. In some cases, the hunger for starchy food also arises.

3) Sadness

During the season change, persistent sadness appears for no specific reason which in turn drops down the mood and the person can’t concentrate on anything.

4) Constant Tiredness

Neither too much work nor anything is done, yet the body remains tired for hours. The person is not able to initiate things and tiredness caries all over the body.

 5) Hopelessness

A person becomes gloom for his future or even feels worthless of self.

6) Avoiding activities

As the person gets irritable and gets hopeless, he/she start to avoid any activities that were enjoyed either.

7) Being Stressed

People facing seasonal depression do not stay calm and usually feel stressed. There is no exact reason but brooding nature and stress surround them.

8) Consuming Drugs And Alcohol

To comfort themselves through this tough phase, a person may begin to take drugs and alcohol exceeding the limits which can turn them into a serious condition.

9) Unexplained Pain

The body may begin to pain anywhere without a major reason supporting it. Sudden pain in the stomach or head is not explainable and it also twists mood completely.

10) Suicidal Thoughts

In extreme cases of seasonal depression, a person thinks of harming himself. This situation can totally be avoided if the early sign of depression is not ignored.


Seasonal depression responds well to treatment. The most common treatment for this includes light therapy, medication, and psychotherapy.

Light Therapy

Light therapy using a device that gives off bright, white light is considered the best treatment form of seasonal depression all this time. The starting dose for light therapy using a fluorescent lightbox is 10,000 lux for 30 minutes per day which should be started in the early morning upon awakening and also to maximize treatment response.  Response to light therapy often occurs within one week but some patients may require up to four weeks in order to show a  response.

Its common side effects include headache, eyestrain, nausea, and agitation but these effects are generally mild and transient with reducing the dose of light. Drugs should be brought in as adjuvants only if this therapy is insufficient.


Wellbutrin XL is chemically unrelated to other common antidepressant medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRIs) whereas there is no conclusive evidence from randomized trials to support the use of SSRIs in the treatment of seasonal depression.


Cognitive behavioral therapy can also be an effective treatment for this depression if it is used in conjunction with light therapy and as well as medication. This therapy involves identifying the negative thought patterns that contribute to symptoms and then replacing these thoughts with positive ones.

Vitamin D

Research has found that people with seasonal depression often have low vitamin D levels. So due to this reason, people are often encouraged to increase their intake of this vitamin either through diet or exposure to the sun.


Exercise is the best way to lower the stress level as those who work out 3 days a week have strong physical and mental health. If winters are pretty intense then try yoga, and aerobics inside your home only.

Last Updated on July 28, 2023 by john liam