seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Cyclical depression occurring in winter, apparently caused by insufficient sunlight. It is most common in places at high latitudes and therefore with long winters and very short daylight hours. Symptoms can include all those of major depression, and there is a risk of suicide. The cause may be related to regulation of the body's temperature and hormones and may involve the pineal gland and melatonin. Exposure to intense full-spectrum light from a set of fluorescent bulbs in a light box with a diffusing screen has proved effective as treatment. Dawn simulation (exposure to low light levels in the final sleep period) and negative-ion therapy can also help.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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