Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Teen Health

Font Size

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Symptoms of SAD

If you have SAD that begins in the fall, like Claire’s, you might have the following symptoms:

  • Increased need for sleep
  • Increased appetite with carbohydrate craving
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Problems with relationships (being sensitive to rejection)
  • A heavy feeling in arms or legs
  • The times you've been depressed during the fall/winter season outnumbering the times you've been depressed at other times over your lifetime

When SAD begins in the spring or summer months, teens might have symptoms of depression such as weight loss, decreased need for sleep, and poor appetite.

What Are the Treatments for SAD?

There are different treatments for SAD, depending on the severity of the symptoms. If you have another type of depression or bipolar disorder, the treatment may be different.

Many doctors recommend that patients with SAD try to get outside early in the morning to increase their exposure to natural light. If this is impossible during dark winter months, antidepressant medications and/or light therapy (phototherapy) may be used. Light therapy involves a full-spectrum light that is shined directly into your eyes.

How Does Light Therapy Work for SAD?

With light therapy for SAD, you sit about 2 feet from a bright light (about 20 times brighter than normal room lighting). You start with one 10-minute to 15-minute session per day. The time is then increased to 30 minutes-45 minutes a day, depending on your response. Some teens recover within days using light therapy; others take much longer.

If the SAD symptoms don't stop, your doctor may increase the light therapy sessions to twice daily. Those who respond to light therapy are encouraged to continue until they can be out in the sunshine again in springtime. Light therapy alone may not be enough to relieve SAD. Since SAD is a form of major depression, an antidepressant may be helpful.

Some researchers link SAD to the natural hormone melatonin, which causes drowsiness. Because light modifies the amount of melatonin in the human nervous system and boosts serotonin to the brain, light therapy has an antidepressant effect. When light strikes the eye's retina, a process in the body decreases the secretion of melatonin.

Today on WebMD

unhappy teen couple
mini cupcakes
teen couple
girl running with vigor
Sugary drinks
teen wearing toning shoes
young woman texting
teen boy holding a condom
Teen girls eating ice cream
teen sleeping
couple kissing
Taylor Swift