What are the DSM-5 criteria for the diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

Updated: Oct 07, 2019
  • Author: Jerry L Halverson, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
  • Print
Answer

About 70% of depressed people feel worse during the winter and better during the summer. To meet the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria [2] for major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern, depression should be present only at a specific time of year (e.g., in the fall or winter) and full remission occurs at a characteristic time of year (e.g., spring). An individual should demonstrate at least 2 episodes of depressive disturbance in the previous 2 years, and seasonal episodes should substantially outnumber nonseasonal episodes. Patients with seasonal affective disorder are more likely to report atypical symptoms, such as hypersomnia, increased appetite, and a craving for carbohydrates.

Cases where there is an obvious effect of seasonally related psychosocial stressors, (e.g., seasonal unemployment) do not meet the diagnostic criteria.


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!