Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that tends to impact people more greatly during the winter. While some people may struggle with SAD during the summer, it is often referred to as ‘winter depression’ due to most people experiencing issues during that time of the year.
That said, many people begin to experience issues with SAD during December. Furthermore, while SAD is an annually recurring problem for many, it is possible that, given the emotional and financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, SAD could be an even greater struggle for Britons this winter.
The exact cause of SAD is unknown, but it is believed to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight. This lack of sunlight may result in increased melatonin levels in the body, reduced serotonin and increased issues with the body’s internal clock. SAD may also be more common within a family, meaning that a person’s genes may make them more vulnerable to it.
SAD should not be left untreated. As such, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of SAD, which include:
- Persistent low mood
- Loss of pleasure or interest in normal activities
- Consistent irritability
- Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Cravings for carbohydrates
- Weight gain
Consider these steps in order to help prevent, alleviate or minimise the effects of SAD:
- Get out—Although the winter days may be shorter, you should still get as much exposure to natural sunlight as possible.
- Brighten things up—Adjusting your work and home environments to be brighter and less cluttered may help in avoiding or minimising SAD.
- Enjoy the view—While you may be stuck indoors more often during the winter, studies have shown that sitting near windows to view the outdoors can help your mood.
- Live a healthy lifestyle—Consuming a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly—especially outdoors in natural sunlight—can help you maintain good physical and mental health.
People who may be experiencing SAD should consult their GP in order to have a mental health assessment.
This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. Readers should contact a health professional for appropriate advice. Content by Zywave, Inc. provided by TH March.