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Psychiatr Danub. 2016 Mar;28(1):25-9.

State of the art psychopharmacological treatment options in seasonal affective disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Gaziosmanpasa University, Tokat, Turkey,


Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is defined as a subtype of mood disorders in DSM 5, and it is characterized by a seasonal onset. SAD is proposed to be related to the seasonal changes in naturally occurring light, and the use of bright light therapy for depressive symptoms has been shown to reduce them in placebo controlled trials. Cognitive behavioral therapy has also been demonstrated to be effective in SAD. This review article aims to focus on the psychopharmacological treatment options for SAD. According to clinical trial results, first line treatment options seem to be sertraline and fluoxetine, and are well tolerated by the patients. There is some evidence that other antidepressants (e.g. bupropion) might be effective as well. Although clinical trials have shown that some of these antidepressants may be of benefit, a recent review has concluded that there is not enough evidence to support the use of any of these agents for the treatment of SAD yet. Moreover, more studies are still needed to evaluate the effectiveness of other treatment options, e.g., propranolol, melatonin, hypericum, etc. In addition to the above proposed treatments, patients with seasonal depressive symptoms should thoroughly be evaluated for any cues of bipolarity, and their treatment should be planned accordingly.

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