Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do people in the north get seasonal affective disorder more than people in the south?"
I was raised in the south and then moved to Philadelphia. Now I'm sad in the winters where before we never really had them. Is it SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder or SAD is a very common condition. Fortunately, it is often treatable and / or manageable. I would recommend that you discuss this with your primary care physician. If helpful, he or she may refer you to a psychiatrist (a mental health specialist) who can further aid in your treatment. Seasonal affective disorder refers to the change in mood that occurs during the different seasons of the year. Most commonly, people with SAD experience depression symptoms during the winter. The reason that we believe people develop this depression in the winter is not the cold, but the fact that in the winter patients are exposed to less sunlight. As the days are shorter, less sunlight reaches the patients. The decreased sunlight affects the diurnal rhythms of the brain and thus can cause depression. As for your question, those in the north of the country live in areas that get less sunlight. Therefore, it is more common to have SAD in the north of the US. Talk to your doctor. There are many treatments of SAD, and your primary care doctor can help. Also, if you ever feel the desire to hurt yourself, commit suicide, or hurt someone else -- you must immediately go to the nearest emergency room.
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