Seasonal Affective Disorder Affects Women More Often Than Men, Study Finds
According to new research from the University of Glasgow, women are more likely to suffer from seasonal affective disorder than men. Moreover, women’s variations in depressive symptoms, such as hopelessness, tend to peak during the winter months.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mental health condition that affects people during certain seasons of the year. It most commonly begins in the fall and peaks during the winter, resulting in feelings of depression and sadness. It is estimated that around 5% of the people in the United States suffer from SAD each year.
SAD symptoms include feelings of worthlessness, fatigue, low energy, and reduced interest in activities that one would normally find enjoyable (anhedonia.)
Past studies have found that women are more likely to experience SAD than men. For this stud, a team of researchers conducted a cross-sectional examination of over 150,000 adults in UK Biobank, a health database that includes around 500,000 people in the United Kingdom.
The investigators analyzed the depressive symptoms of subjects during each season, in addition to symptoms of anhedonia, poor mood, tiredness, and tenseness. Results revealed that women suffer from more seasonal variations in depression than men, as well as anhedonia and tiredness – seasonal traits not found in men.
These symptoms were also at their greatest during the winter months. Finding also suggested that longer days were linked to improved mood and less anhedonia in women, but also an increase in tiredness.
From the study:
“We examined whether seasonal variations in depressive symptoms occurred independently of demographic and lifestyle factors, and were related to change in day length and/or outdoor temperature.”
The authors stated that, however, “associations with day length were not independent of the average outdoor temperature preceding assessment.” The team also noted some limitations, such as the study was based on self-reports and researchers were only able to evaluate a subset of symptoms of depression.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology