Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) was first described as such by psychiatrist Norman Rosenthal and colleagues in 1984. Thirty years after that publication, a Witness Seminar was held to discuss the impact and acceptability of SAD as a diagnostic entity; the longer history of seasonal variation in mood; and clinical and scientific work in the field, with contributions from psychiatrists, chronobiologists, endocrinologists, and sufferers of the condition.
Additionally, Professor Rosenthal was interviewed further about his work and its influence, both video clips and a transcript are available; as is a podcast featuring Professor Rosenthal, and Jennifer Eastwood and Helen Hanson who both suffer from SAD and are involved in the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, SADA.
A further interview with chronobiologist Professor Josephine Arendt, including video clips; transcript of video interview; and the transcript of a longer audio only interview are also available. In these Professor Arendt not only discusses SAD but also her work on circadian rhythms, shift work and jet-lag.
A biochemist by training, Professor Josephine Arendt pioneered the field of chronobiology, developing the first sensitive technique for measuring melatonin through radioimmunoassay. She discusses the lengths she went to in pursuit of evidence about the mechanisms governing sleep-wake cycles, even using herself as a guinea pig for studying sleep disorders.
Having suffered himself from the so-called ‘winter blues’, during his psychiatry residency at the National Institute of Mental Health, USA, Professor Norman Rosenthal was drawn to research on the role of light in physiology, mood disorders, and biological cycles. Recognising that patterns in psychological difficulties related to seasonal changes, in 1984 he coined the term ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD).