[Pharmacotherapy of seasonal depression].


Hilger E.






Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), first described in 1984, is a condition characterized by recurring depressive episodes in fall and winter alternating with nondepressive episodes in spring and summer. Various neurotransmitters have been implicated in the etiology of SAD, with the strongest evidence for an involvement of serotonin. Moreover, researchers have focused on the development of treatment modalities for SAD. Despite the proven efficacy of light therapy in SAD, some patients do not experience sufficient relief of depressive symptoms with light, and a number of them feel unable to comply because of logistical difficulties in administering bright light therapy. Comparatively few studies have examined the role of pharmacotherapy in the treatment of SAD. So far, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and possibly compounds with a distinct noradrenergic mechanism of action seem to be the treatment of choice for seasonal depression. There is, however, a clear need for further placebo-controlled studies to evaluate pharmacological treatment options for SAD.