Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do I have seasonal depression?"
I was really sad all winter, but now since spring and summer have started, I don?t feel depressed. I?m a 21 year old college student, female. Is seasonal depression normal or should I do something about it?
Sorry to hear that you felt sad all winter long. I am glad to hear however that since spring and summer have started that you are feeling much better. Before I tell you what I think may be going on, I want to be clear that if at any time you have any self-defeating thoughts, or thoughts of harming yourself (I am not implying that you are) then you should definitely speak with a mental health specialist. Also to get the most complete answer for your question, I would recommend making an appointment with a physician (it could be your primary care physician, or a psychiatrist) because they will be able to take a thorough history and examine you. If I make some assumptions from the information that you have given me, I suspect that you may have experienced something called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This disorder is on the depression spectrum, and classically manifests itself during the winter months. There are many theories about the etiology, but most of them center around the lack of stimulation of something called the pineal gland in the brain (due to lack of sunlight exposure). This is why one of the main treatments for the disorder is light therapy. Also cognitive behavior therapy and anti-depressants can be used. I don't know if you live in a location where there is low sunlight exposure during the winter months. I would recommend that this coming winter if you have similar symptoms, to make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss your options. I hope that this is helpful.
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