Do the changing seasons make you SAD?

December 15, 2021 Providence Women's Health Team

This article was updated in December 2021 to reflect recent research and information.


In this article:

  • SAD is a type of depression that occurs during the fall and winter when days are shorter.

  • Women are more likely than men to experience SAD. The symptoms can cause serious disruption to their daily lives.

  • Turning back the clock for Daylight Savings Time can worsen the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) for many people.

For many, the annual tradition of Daylight Savings Time brings an extra hour of sleep and a reminder to check their smoke alarm batteries. But for others – especially women – it marks the return of their seasonal affective disorder.

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD as it’s commonly known, is a type of depression. It occurs during the fall and winter months when there are fewer hours of sunlight and colder temperatures limit outdoor activities. The changing seasons, shorter days and reduced light can disrupt your body’s internal clock or circadian rhythms and affect the chemicals in your brain that help regulate mood.

When the days become shorter, our body’s circadian rhythms can get out-of-whack, causing seasonal affective disorder. SAD affects millions of Americans every year, prompting depression, mood swings and changes in sleep and eating habits.

SAD can affect anyone, but it occurs much more often in women than in men, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. Although it’s sometimes shrugged off as just the “winter blues,” for many women SAD is a serious threat to their mental health. Here’s a look at seasonal depression and how it affects the women who deal with its impact on their lives.



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Related resources

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If you need care, don’t delay. Learn more about your options.

Knowledge Is Power: Avoid SAD This Winter

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American Psychiatric Association: Seasonal Affective Disorder

National Institute of Mental Health: Seasonal Affective Disorder

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

About the Author

The Providence Women's Health team is committed to providing useful and actionable insights, tips and advice to ensure women of all types can live their healthiest lives.

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