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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder characterized by depression that comes from the variations of light with the changing seasons. The change affects the person's circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms refer to regular rhythms of growth and activity that normally occur on a 24-hour pattern.
With SAD, circadian rhythms are an internal clock that regulates the body's cycle of biological processes. People who suffer from SAD experience symptoms of depression during the winter months, and the symptoms resolve or subside in the spring and summer months. SAD is also called winter depression.