Sometimes Major Depression can be seasonal. Some people get depressed during certain seasons. Often, as the days get shorter, their mood gets worse. According to the the DSM-IV, this diagnosis can only be made if the depressive episodes occur only at certain times of the year. In most cases, these episodes occur in the fall or winter and are not present the rest of the year. However, in some cases the depressive episodes are related to the summer.
Criteria for Major Depression with Seasonal Pattern
- symptoms of Major Depression which occur only at certain times of the year (see Major Depression for a list of symptoms)
- symptoms completely disappear other times of the year
- the pattern must have occurred in the last two years
- seasonal episodes of Major Depression outnumber any episodes not related to the season over a person's lifetime
- episodes are not related to seasonal stressful events such as school schedule or seasonal unemployment
Depression that Follows the Seasons
Some people seem to get depressed during certain seasons. Often, people with this type of depression notice that as the days get shorter, their mood gets worse. The DSM-IV's official diagnosis states for this diagnosis to be true, the depression must be completely resolved part of the year.
It is possible that some brain activity is triggered by light. When there isn't enough light, the brain is less active. Phototherapy addresses this possibility. This treatment involves sitting in front of a special light. Your doctor can help you to decide about the kind of light, the amount of time, and the time of day you use it.