Health Analysts Predict When Seasonal Affective Disorder Will Peak In 2022

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) brings the blues to up to 3% of the population, typically during autumn and winter. WebMD explains that SAD symptoms resemble depression, including tiredness, disinterest in activities you usually enjoy, sleep pattern disruptions, food cravings and weight gain, and poor mood.

Symptoms may vary in severity, but SAD can interfere with daily life, including work and relationships. According to MedlinePlus, people with existing clinical depression are 20% likely to experience SAD, and 25% of those with bipolar disorder may also feel SAD during the dark winter months. 

Unlike cabin fever or the regular blues, SAD is a medical condition and is considered a temporary form of clinical depression. Typically, SAD occurs in fall and winter, but around 10% of those with SAD experience the phenomenon in the spring and summer months.

The National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) says a clinical diagnosis for SAD requires individuals to experience seasonal depression for at least two consecutive years. But after diagnosis, SAD may not happen every year, and up to 50% could get relief from the condition in subsequent years.

If you or someone you know has seasonal depression, knowing when it may peak could help you prepare for the coming season. Here's when health analysts predict seasonal affective disorder will peak in 2022.

Seasonal depression expected to peak in early November 2022

Thriveworks used Google search trends for the term seasonal depression, in part, to determine when SAD will likely peak in 2022. After adding weather pattern predictions to search engine data, the experts at Thriveworks were able to predict precisely when seasonal affective disorder could impact people the most in 2022. This year, SAD is expected to peak during the first week in November. Thriveworks says that's likely due to the change in weather, not just the weather itself. 

The exact causes of seasonal depression remain unknown, but according to the NIMH, a decrease in levels of the mood-regulating brain hormone serotonin is thought to be at least partially responsible. Other research suggests excess melatonin, a key hormone for regulating sleep patterns, may increase sleepiness and affect mood balance. Whatever the cause, SAD presents a real problem for millions of people each year, particularly in the northern states of America. 

But those who experience the disorder can still live a full and vibrant life this season. As Emily Simonian, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Head of Clinical Learning at Thriveworks, says, "Knowing when to expect the onset of seasonal depression can help [individuals] create a treatment plan with or without the help of a professional... Getting ahead of seasonal depression by practicing coping skills, starting projects, or planning a trip can help, too!"