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What You Should Know About Seasonal Affective Disorder and Chronic Pain


Don’t brush off this yearly feeling as a case of the winter blues, or something you need to tough out on your own. Beginning in the fall and continuing throughout the winter, if you experience symptoms like low energy, appetite changes, oversleeping, or weight gain, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in the seasons, beginning and ending at about the same times each year. While the specific cause of SAD remains unknown, the changes in season and reduced sunlight are believed to have an effect on your biological clock, serotonin, and melatonin levels.

Additional factors can also increase the risk of developing SAD:

  • Genetics – If a blood relative suffers from SAD or another form of depression, your chances of developing SAD are higher
  • Pre-existing conditions – SAD is more likely to occur in people who already have mental/emotional issues, like clinical depression.
  • Location – The further you live from the equator, the more likely you are to develop SAD due to the more prominent changes in sunlight and temperatures.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Chronic Pain

If you live with chronic pain, SAD should be on your radar. SAD can be linked to chronic pain conditions, just as depression can. Patients with chronic pain are 4x more likely to develop a mental illness than those without. Like a cycle, chronic pain and symptoms of depression feed into each other; a positive mood generally makes for less pain, while a negative mood often heightens discomfort and pain.

The same is true in reverse. Those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder or other forms of depression are more likely to experience chronic pain. SAD can cause fatigue that prevents you from getting regular movement and adequate exercise. A sedentary lifestyle can reduce muscular and skeletal strength, which puts more strain on your spine, joints, and ligaments. The extra stress makes your body more susceptible to inflammation, injuries, and dysfunctions that cause chronic pain.

If you suffer from chronic pain and/or symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, seeking treatment with Redefine Healthcare’s pain management team may help resolve or improve both issues. Concurrently with pain management, our board-certified psychiatrist is here to provide mental health resources to help you through the season. Treatment of chronic pain requires a multidisciplinary approach, which means addressing not just the physical symptoms, but the psychological effects as well. Schedule an appointment by calling (732) 906-9600 or visit

Page Updated on May 20, 2022 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare


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Dr. Eric D. Freeman

Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a “top pain management doctor in New Jersey” and one of “America’s Top Physicians” for advanced sports injury treatments.

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