Jefferson University Hospitals

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

If you are someone who loses energy and begins to feel tired and depressed during the winter months only, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Both clinical and sub-clinical SAD have been shown to be responsive to light therapy. If you're experiencing clinical SAD, you should work with a neurologist at Jefferson to have your condition diagnosed and treated. If you have sub-clinical SAD – in other words, you're just "dragging" – you may be able to attempt some therapy on your own. But by working with a Jefferson neurologist, you'll probably achieve much better results.

Light therapy is the primary form of therapy and our first choice at Jefferson for treating SAD. The good news about light therapy is that it generally works very quickly and its side effects, if any, are easily managed. Patients who initiate this therapy often see some change in three or four days and very robust changes within two weeks or so.

Of course, medication is another option for patients who, for whatever reason, are unable or unwilling to do light therapy. Medication can often take longer to bring positive change and can also pose some side effects.

Another treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy. In one clinical trial, this therapy method has been shown to be effective in treating SAD and especially effective when combined with light treatment.

Make an Appointment

Call 1-800-JEFF-NOW (1-800-533-3669) to make an appointment with a Jefferson Health specialist.