The Recent History of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
The variation of mood with the seasons has been acknowledged for a long time. It was in 1984 that the term Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) was first used in a paper by Norman Rosenthal and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD. This Witness Seminar looked at the research leading up to that paper and the thirty years of subsequent investigations into the disorder which affects a significant proportion of the population.
Chaired by Professor Sir Brian Follett, participants, some of whom suffered from SAD, included two of the scientists involved in the early SAD research in the USA – Alfred Lewy and Norman Rosenthal, biologists studying photoperiodism, and representatives from SADA, the support organization in the UK for sufferers of this disorder.
Discussion addressed the theories of causation; research into circadian rhythms and the role of melatonin; the symptoms, diagnosis and prevalence of the disorder; and treatment with artificial bright light and drugs. It also covered patient activism, the various perceptions of SAD by medical professionals and its diagnostic classification, and the difficulties of funding research and treatment.
Overy C and Tansey E M. (eds) (2014)
Wellcome Witnesses to Contemporary Medicine, vol. 51. London: Queen Mary, University of London.
ISBN 978 0 90223 897 8
To listen to a podcast inspired by the Witness Seminar, click here.