Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Since SAD is a type of depression, the signs and symptoms associated with this disorder are similar to those of major depression, and include:
- Persistent sadness
- Losing interest in activities you usually enjoy
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
Other symptoms can vary between winter-pattern and summer-pattern SAD. Common symptoms of summer-pattern SAD include:
- Poor appetite that may lead to weight loss
- Agitation and/or violent outbursts
Common symptoms of winter-pattern SAD include:
- Overeating that may lead to weight gain
- Social withdrawal
Your doctor can help you recognize the pattern of your symptoms. For example, do you start experiencing depressive symptoms in October that last until May? Do you then feel better during the summer months, until the next October?
The Benefits of TMS Treatment for People With SAD
TMS is an alternative to antidepressants that is proven to help relieve symptoms of major depression, even when antidepressants don’t work. (7,8) TMS can also help patients find relief from SAD symptoms when other treatments don’t. TMS stimulates brain cells by focusing magnetic pulses to a certain area of the brain. This is done by placing a magnetic coil over a specific area of the scalp. TMS is medication-free, non-invasive, and painless.
A TMS treatment course lasts a total of 9 weeks–6 weeks of treatment and a 3 week taper period. Due to the short length of the TMS treatment course, your doctor can plan your treatment according to your symptom pattern. For example, if your symptoms typically start in late October, your doctor may recommend starting your TMS treatment course in early October.
TMS is also proven to be long-lasting, and the positive effects may last for at least one year for some patients. (9) Although TMS results vary from person to person, one treatment course will likely provide you with symptom relief for the entire season. In some cases, patients may need a maintenance session if they feel their symptoms coming back.