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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


an illness that affects some people during the time of year when there is very little light from the sun and that makes them feel tired and unhappy

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The acronym SAD is short for seasonal affective disorder. Both terms were first used in print in the early 1980s in a newspaper article about the condition.


While some people love the late autumn and early winter, many others find that the diminishing daylight and frequent bad weather make them feel rather gloomy. For some the problem goes far beyond feeling a bit fed up; such people may suffer from SAD, a form of depression with a seasonal pattern, most frequently associated with the winter months. SAD or seasonal affective disorder was first described in the 1980s by Norman E. Rosenthal and colleagues. It is believed to be associated with reduced exposure to sunlight and indeed seems to be more frequent in darker areas and less frequent in places with high levels of light throughout the year. Various treatments are available, including light therapy, where a special light box is used to mimic exposure to sunlight; talking therapies such as CBT; and antidepressant medication. Other possible ways of alleviating the symptoms include getting as much sunlight as possible, exercising, and managing stress levels.


“Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.”
(Desiderius Erasmus)

Related words

sad, gloomy, despondent

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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