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Ronald R. Fieve, M.D, PC

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Is Seasonal Affective Depression Real?

Seasonal affective depression (also known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD) is a form of depression that is said to affect people at certain times every year. It is something which was widely accepted until now.

A recent study conducted by Dr. Steven LoBello, a professor of psychology at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, challenges the notion that there is a relationship between seasons and our mental state. The results of his research have left people asking the question: Is seasonal affective depression real?

In his study, he, along with his team of researchers, conducted telephonic Q&A based interviews with over thirty-four thousand people of varying ages. The research took into account people from various climates and latitudes who hailed from all corners of the country.

The result of their research provided no solid correlation between seasonal changes and people’s depression. His study even examined the effects of reduced amount of exposure to light during the fall and winter months. Nevertheless, they could not rule out with certainty that the possibility of people being affected by seasonal changes does exist, but they believe that there is a very low probability.

While their finding has made waves in certain circles, it has been received with scepticism from many medical professionals, such as Dr. Fieve, who claim that the study was inconclusive overall. They suggested that more research is required to arrive at a conclusion which is acceptable and strong enough to override the existing notion of seasonal affective disorder.

Many years ago, a more in-depth study on the issue of seasonal affective disorder was conducted under the guidance of Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a psychiatrist and a leading researcher of SAD. His research also took into account people of various ages from different climates and latitudes. Unlike Dr. LoBello’s findings, his research did establish some connection between climates and our mental state. He found that there was much less depression in bright and sunny places like Florida compared to the colder, gloomier northern areas.

The fact that there are now two opposing viewpoints will necessitate that more researchers conduct their own independent in-depth studies to determine if seasonal affective disorder really exists or not.

If it doesn’t exist, then what is the cause behind people becoming lazy, lethargic, tired, drained of energy, and going on eating sprees every time fall and winter arrives? If it’s not the seasonal change that is affecting them and causing them to fall into a state of depression, then what is the reason and cause of this?


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