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Diagnosis - Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Visit a GP if you have symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Effective treatments are available if you're diagnosed with the condition.

The GP may carry out a psychological assessment to check your mental health. They may ask about:

  • your mood
  • your lifestyle
  • your eating and sleeping patterns
  • any seasonal changes in your thoughts and behaviour
  • whether your symptoms prevent you from carrying out normal activities
  • whether there's anything in your personal or family history that may contribute to a depressive disorder, such as a family history of depression

The GP may also carry out a brief physical examination.

Confirming a diagnosis of SAD

SAD can be difficult to diagnose because there are many other types of depression that have similar symptoms.

It may take some time before you and a GP realise that your symptoms are forming a regular pattern.

A diagnosis of SAD can usually be confirmed if:

  • your depression occurs at a similar time each year for at least 2 years
  • the periods of depression are followed by periods without depression

Page last reviewed: 20 May 2022
Next review due: 20 May 2025