• Most parts of the United States observe daylight saving time.
  • Many people are prone to seasonal depression during the fall and winter.
  • Research indicates that daylight saving time can increase the symptoms of seasonal depression for some people.

Most parts of the United States observe what’s known as daylight saving time. Each year, beginning on the second Sunday in March, clocks are set 1 hour ahead. Then, on the first Sunday in November, they’re set back an hour to standard time.

Since its adoption by Congress in 1918, there’s been ongoing controversy about daylight saving time. Some argue it reduces energy consumption and improves the economy. Others say there are potential health and safety issues, such as increased risk of heart attacks or traffic accidents.

An emerging concern, however, is its effects on mood disorders, like seasonal depression.

What is seasonal depression?

Seasonal depression is a type of mood disorder that primarily occurs at a specific time of the year.

Most commonly, people have seasonal depression during the fall and winter months. There are those, however, who have a form of seasonal depression that occurs during the spring and summer months.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is a handbook mental healthcare providers use to diagnose mental disorders such as seasonal depression.

The DSM-5 name for this condition is “major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern.” It’s also commonly referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

According to the DSM-5, seasonal depression includes symptoms such as:

  • feeling sad or depressed
  • losing interest in things previously enjoyed
  • eating more, especially carbohydrates
  • sleeping too much
  • lacking energy or feeling tired
  • feeling either restless or slowed down
  • feeling guilty or worthless
  • having problems with making decisions or concentrating
  • thinking about death or suicide

People with seasonal depression tend to follow the same pattern each year, feeling depressed during the fall and winter (or spring and summer), but feeling well the rest of the year.

If you’ve experienced this pattern for at least 2 years in a row, it’s possible that you may have seasonal depression.

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