Background: There is a lack of published information about the consultation patterns of patients with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in primary care, when compared with non-seasonal controls (NSCs). Methods: Interview-confirmed SAD cases (n = 90) were age- and sex-matched to two controls without significant seasonal morbidity on the Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaire (SPAQ) (non-seasonal controls, NSCs). A comparison of their consultation rates was made using data abstracted from primary care records over 4 years. Results: The monthly rate of general practice consultations for SAD cases was significantly higher than that for NSCs. There was a significant difference in the median number of consultations in winter and autumn between the two groups. The matched multivariate analysis revealed that February and April were the independent months in which cases of SAD had significantly more consultations than NSCs. Limitations: Optimal diagnostic criteria for SAD have not been determined and our criteria may have been over-inclusive. Conclusion: In addition to a marked difference in monthly consultation rates between SAD cases and NSCs, the data demonstrate a difference in the pattern of seasonality of these rates. It is possible that increased frequency of consultation, in particular during the winter months (in patients who scare as a case SPAQ), could be used as an indication of SAD in primary care. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
- seasonal affective disorder
- primary care