Are Your Mood Changes Actually Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

By: Holly L. Thacker, MD • Posted on November 07, 2011 • Updated March 02, 2021

Are Your Mood Changes Actually Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Do you Feel More Irritable During the Fall and Winter?

If your mood and energy level plummet with the loss of daylight, you need to see your health care provider. You might be low in vitamin D or you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a common condition that is easily treated.

How do you Treat SAD?

Medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRRI) and/or light therapy (10,000 lux of light for 30 minutes in the morning from September through April in the Northern Hemisphere) will boost serotonin levels in the brain.

Other mood boosters include:

  • Exercise
  • Omega 3 oils
  • B complex vitamins
  • Adequate sleep
  • Time for oneself!

If you are feeling down and fatigued during the fall and winter, it could be SAD or it could be another problem such as anemia, thyroid disorder, hormonal imbalance, vitamin deficiency, medication side effects or an undiagnosed sleep disorder. You owe it to yourself and your family to make sure you feel energized.

If you just have a mild case of the blues from missing the long summer days, be sure to pamper yourself, curl up in front of a warm fireplace, light a scented candle, and/or put up some bright holiday lights to lift your spirits. If that doesn't work, it is time to see your physician. There is no reason to suffer! Embrace every season in your life, literally and figuratively!

Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!

- Holly L. Thacker, MD

Holly L. Thacker, MD, FACP is nationally known for her leadership in women’s health. She is the founder of the Cleveland Clinic Women’s Health Fellowship and is currently the Professor and Director of the Center for Specialized Women’s Health at Cleveland Clinic and Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Thacker is also the Executive Director of Speaking of Women’s Health and the author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause. Her special interests and areas of research including menopause and related medical problems including osteoporosis, hormone therapy, breast cancer risk assessment, menstrual disorders, female sexual dysfunction and interdisciplinary women’s health.


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