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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/5098
- Seasonal affective disorder in Australia: is photoperiod critical?
- Murray, Gregory W.; Hay, David A.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a variant of recurrent depression in which episodes are linked to a particular season, typically winter. SAD is understood as the extreme end of a continuum of seasonality in the general population. Photoperiod (the timing and duration of daylight) has been assumed to be aetiologically critical. The present research used a survey design to investigate the assumed centrality of photoperiod for SAD/seasonality in Australia. Two hypotheses were tested: that self-reported seasonality does not increase further from the equator and that seasonality does not stand alone from non-seasonal neurotic complaints. The sampling frame used was adult females on the Australian Twin Registry roll. A sample of 526 women residing across the latitudes of Australia responded to a survey based around the Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaire (SPAQ). The SPAQ asks respondents to retrospectively report on season-related changes in mood and behaviour. The survey also contained three questionnaire measures of neurotic symptoms of anxiety and depression: the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), the Community Epidemiological Survey for Depression (CES-D) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-Trait (STAI-T). Self-reported seasonality did not correlated with latitude (r = 0.01, NS). On the other hand, a substantial relationship was found between seasonality and each of the measures of non-seasonal complaints: GHQ (r = 0.35, p < 0.001); CES-D (r = 0.35, p < 0.001); and STAI-T (r = 0.30, p < 0.001). Within the limitations of a design based on retrospective self-report, the findings of the present study suggest that the diathesis for SAD/seasonality may not be photoperiod-specific. At least in Australia, there is provisional support for the proposal that human seasonality may have a broader psychological component. The findings are discussed in terms of established research into normal mood, trait personality and non-seasonal depression.
- Publication type
- Journal article
- Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 31, no. 2 (Apr 1997), pp. 279-284
- Publication year
- Depression; Mood disorder; Photoperiod; SAD; Seasonal affective disorder; Seasonal variation; Seasons
- Informa Healthcare
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 1997 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.
- Peer reviewed