Seasonal Affective Disorder Risk Factors

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Seasonal Affective Disorder  Risk Factors.

Some people have a higher risk for developing Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD) than others. Certain medications/drugs can also aggravate or increase the risk of of SAD. 

Warning - You must not reduce medications unless you have first agreed this with your doctor!

The following drugs/medicines may aggravate or increase the risk of SAD:

A recent case study reported in a psychiatry journal suggests that there may be a link between varenicilline (a nicotine substitute used for giving up smoking) and exacerbation of recurrent depression.

Melatonin is sometimes used for insomnia or as a pre-med before surgery and this could aggravate SAD.  A small study demonstrated that melatonin exacerbated depression in moderately to severely depressed patients.  Melatonin should also not be used alongside light therapy as it will interact with the secretion time of melatonin in the brain that is the achieved with the Light therapy.

Caffeine interacts with melatonin and may disrupt sleep patterns.

The following studies have shown evidence that some people have a higher risk of developing seasonal affective disorder:

SAD & Diabetes.

Research has shown a link between type 2 diabetes and depression and that diabetics with depression have a higher rate of adverse outcomes. Patient QI found  a study published in 2012 that demonstrated the depression in type 2 diabetes is seasonal, occurring in the Winter months.   However studies on depression associated with type 1 diabetes in adolescents showed a greater degree of depression in the spring/summer months that in the winter months.

SAD & Ethnicity

Ethnic differences may also be a factor in risk of SAD.  A study carried out in Norway looked at the prevalence of SAD in five immigrant populations and found that the highest numbers of people affected by SAD were Iranians and the lowest amount of SAD was found in the Sri Lankan group.

SAD in Patients with Existing Psychiatric Disorders.

People who have already suffered from depression or anxiety have a higher risk of developing SAD. Patient QI found a paper published in 2013 that  investigated SAD in patients who had a history of depression and anxiety and compared them to a healthy control group.  Results showed that all of the participants (2.168 people) including the healthy controls showed a pattern of lowered mood during the winter months but that the depression , depressed/anxiety and anxiety groups were significantly more likely to experience SAD.  Patients and treating doctors should therefore take this into account when treating patients with psychiatric disorders.

The seasonal affective disorder risk factors page is updated regularly as new studies are published in the medical journals.


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