Frequently Asked Questions

There are numerous misconceptions about SAD. Sometimes it can be dismissively referred to as the ‘winter blues’. It is important to recognise that SAD can affect a person’s life as much as any other type of depression. Other references, such as ‘winter blues’ diminishes the impact a person may experience when living with the condition.  

SAD is diagnosed if your depression has a pattern relating to the seasons. Some people can become depressed at other times of the year that are difficult for them, it could be because of a bereavement anniversary or Christmas.  

No. Bipolar Disorder can sometimes have a seasonal pattern. You can find more information about this on our Bipolar Disorder condition page.  

Evidence to support light therapy as a successful treatment option for SAD varies. Some studies have indicated it is more likely to produce short term results. Those that reported light therapy to have worked, have usually found their symptoms improved within the first couple of weeks.  


Most people can try light therapy without any side effects or risks. However, you do need to ensure that you buy the right light for this treatment. You can either check with your GP or look on the SADA website

Light therapy isn’t suitable for everyone. For example, certain eye conditions might prevent this treatment from being an option. Similarly, certain medication might make you more sensitive to light which might prevent you from using this form of therapy. Speak to your GP if you are uncertain.  

Mood variations between the seasons has been acknowledged for a long time. The medical term SAD was first described in 1984 by the psychiatrist, Norman Rosenthal, as a “syndrome characterized by recurrent depressions that occur annually at the same time each year.” 

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