Seasonal Affective Disorder Diagnosis

(Also Known As: Seasonal Affective Diagnosis, Depression Diagnosis, SAD Diagnosis, Seasonal Mood Disorder Diagnosis)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

How is Seasonal Affective Disorder Diagnosed?

When it comes to diagnosis, seasonal affective disorder is not independent from major depression or bipolar disorder. The term “seasonal pattern” was added in order to provide diagnostic information for the regular pattern of depression associated with major depression or bipolar disorder. 5

An individual suffering from seasonal affective disorder would usually experience depression during the fall or winter months and terminates during the spring months. Throughout the year, however, the mood of the individual is normal or does not merit a diagnosis of clinical depression.

In order to be diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder, an individual must meet the following criteria:

  1. The person demonstrates a regular pattern of depression that commences during specific times of the year and is not associated with certain annual stressors such as school/college or unemployment.
  2. The depression terminates at certain seasons of the year
  3. The depressive pattern has been taking place for the last couple of years with no other symptoms outside of depression
  4. The individual has experienced more seasonal than non-seasonal depressions during their lifetime.

In order for a condition to be diagnosed as seasonal affective disorder, mental health providers administer a comprehensive psychological evaluation. Certain questions will be asked such as mood, lifestyle and social situations, and sleeping and eating patterns.

There are instances when you will be asked to answer some psychological questionnaires. Physical examinations can likewise be done to check for other health conditions which are similar to seasonal affective disorder.

Seasonal affective disorder is not accepted b psychiatrists as an independent disorder but as a subtype of depression or bipolar disorder.

Could You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Adjustment Disorder – psychological response to a known stressor, emotional changes
Anxiety Disorder NOS – pathological fear and anxiety, chronic anxiety, panic disorder, phobias
Bipolar Disorder – psychosis, hallucinations, delusions, suicide, hypomania, hypermania