Diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

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In the diagnosis of SAD, the cyclic occurrence of the signs and symptoms in the affected season helps in differential diagnosis and sets it apart from other psychiatric problems and depressions.
Professional advice must be sought for identifying the disorder and the treatment of SAD.
Treatment and medication for SAD disorder must be done by a medical doctor.
He may analyse the patient's lifestyle, living conditions, working conditions, eating patterns, social activities, sleeping patterns and changes in mood and energy.
The evaluation of this information helps in the differential analysis of SAD disorder symptoms.

Diagnosis of SAD

  • The affected person's location far away from the equator is an indicator of possibility of this ailment.
  • Change to cheerful moods with the change of location to a place of bright daylight also helps in pin pointing the ailment.
  • Cyclic recurrence of the symptoms and their regular pattern is the main indicator.
  • The affected person will also have cyclic normalcy in other seasons.
  • The person will have no other obvious causes, both physically and mentally for the mood swings and depression.
  • Some signs and symptoms associated to the disorder, especially the winter induced, are specific indicators for focussing on the disorder.
  • Unlike the other types of depressions wherein the affected person loses appetite, loses weight and has difficulty in sleeping, the affected person tends to eat more, sleep more and puts on weight.
  • In some cases a patient may experience both winter and summer SAD and show normalcy during spring and fall.
  • In summer his symptoms will reverse and he may lose appetite, lose weight, sleep poorly and may be hyperactive. This helps in differential diagnosis of this ailment.
  • With bright light therapy there is marked improvement in the condition of the SAD affected person whereas in persons with other types of depressions there may not be any change.
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