Seasonal Affective Disorder Research

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

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

Current Research in Seasonal Affective Disorder

A new study revealed that the onset of seasonal affective disorder in an individual may be associated with a genetic mutation in the eye which causes the patient to develop less sensitivity to light. 8

According to Ignacio Provencio, a biology professor at the University of Virginia who studied the genetics of the circadian rhythm, believed that mutation can lead to an increase in the amount of light needed for regular functioning during the winter for people with seasonal affective disorder. Although insufficient light can lead to the condition, this is not the only explanation for its onset.

The findings of the study, which was in collaboration with other agencies including the National Institute of Mental Health, revealed that melanopsin mutation could have an impact in the diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder. According to Provencio, an individual who has a duplicate copy of the melanopsin gene is more likely to have seasonal affective disorder.

Melanopsin is responsible for encoding light-sensitive protein found in a variety of photoreceptors in the retina which are not associated with vision, but are connected to most non-visual reactions, like control of circadian rhythms and hormones, mediation of alertness, and sleep regulation.

Melanopsin mutation can lead to the aberrant regulation of their reaction to light, which results in depression. According to Provencio, better understanding of pathological reactions to light in seasonal affective disorder can bring about improvements in treatment.

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