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The presence of sad feelings during the winter months is not enough to justify a diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Post-holiday credit card bill shock or cabin fever symptoms are enough to trigger a blue day or two during the winter. There are definite clinical indicators that must be present to diagnose someone with SAD. The person must show symptoms of clinical depression and must have done so for at least two consecutive winters.
A person with SAD changes during the spring and summer months as symptoms disappear, or nearly so. If you think you or someone you care about may have SAD, you should contact your doctor or your local community mental health center. You can find a listing of local mental health associations at the National Mental Health Association's Web site (www.nmha.org).