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The purpose of this paper is to: 1) describe the seasonal affective disorder syndrome using a case illustration, 2) provide a simple and reliable method for identifying seasonal affective disorder, and 3) provide data as to the prevalence of the syndrome in a subset of collegiate hockey players.
Collegiate hockey players were selected, because their practices begin in the fall and play is completed in the spring. The teams selected for participation were from the far Northwest and the upper Midwest regions.
Sixty-eight Division I hockey players volunteered for the study. The three teams from which the subjects were chosen were located above latitude 42°/45' north. Subjects were from the northern latitudes.
The Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaire was used to screen for seasonality. A sample of the athletes was also examined using the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression together with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed) criteria for Seasonal Pattern Specifier.
Thirty-three (51%) were asymptomatic, 7 (11%) met the criteria for seasonal affective disorder, and 25 (39%) hockey players scored in the range that could classify them as candidates for subsyndromal seasonal affective disorder.
The prevalence of seasonal affective disorder among our sample approximated the national norm for the northern latitudes. However, the prevalence of subsyndromal seasonal affective disorder in our population was 25% compared to 13% reported nationally. Light therapy has been shown to reverse the effects of the disorders; however, further research needs to be conducted to determine its acceptance and effectiveness by the athletic population.