Dr. Alexander Salerno leads a health-care practice in East Orange, New Jersey. There, Dr. Alexander Salerno sees patients with a variety of conditions, including mood disorders, such as seasonal affective disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder, also referred to as seasonal depression, occurs when a person experiences negative changes in mood at a certain period of the year, most commonly in the fall and winter months. While the exact cause of seasonal affective disorder is not known, many scientists believe it may be associated with the lower levels of sunlight a person typically is exposed to during the darker months of the year. This may have an effect on serotonin levels, and therefore a person’s overall mood. A person’s hormones also may play a role.
Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder often gradually increase in their severity before they begin to improve, typically in the spring. These symptoms include feeling lethargic, having trouble focusing, and wanting to withdraw from others. The person might experience weight changes and have sleeping difficulties as well. If you feel depressed or have a low mood at certain times of the year, talk to your doctor about seasonal depression. Your doctor may recommend treatment, which might include sunlight exposure, medication, or counseling.