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Seasonal affective Disorder (SAD)


During the winter in the UK, we have shorter days and longer nights, the clocks go forward so we lose an hour then it gets darker sooner. Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD, affects up to 2 million people in the UK during the autumn and winter months. 

When you consider those of who don’t necessarily depressed during the winter, but you are not as happy, cheerful and your mood is quite low. This is known as the Winter Blues, Subsyndromal Sad. 

During these months, you can experience low mood, excessive eating or lack of appetite, sleep problems, anxious feelings, low motivation, tiredness, weight gain and mood swings.

There are several reasons why people may develop S.A.D. With our modern-day lifestyle where we go to work when it is dark and come home when it is dark in the Winter, we have less downtime – less time to go out to be with nature, A lot of our activities are based indoors where we socialise with our families and friends in each other homes, we work in an office all day with artificial lighting, we watch T.V.  SAD is affecting more and more people.

However, there is a lot you can do minimise how it affects you. I have put together 9 things you can try – Not in any particular order of importance.

  1. Speak to your GP – You can start by speaking to your doctor to see if you could get a diagnosis. You could work out if it is SAD and not clinical depression.
  2. Go outdoors – During the winter months when it is cold and dark, many of us retreat to indoors. Going through nature and being outdoors is fantastic for your emotional health. A report has shown that those living near to green spaces are less likely to be on anti-depressants.
  3. Exercise – By going out for a walk, hike or run will not only help you emotionally but physically with the benefits of exercise as well. The benefits of exercise to help with symptoms of depression is well documented.
  4. Eat well and drink well: It is so easy to just indulge in junk food during the winter months when we are feeling more tired and drained. It is also important to remember that when we go through a long period of time without eating, our blood sugar levels drop, when our sugar levels fall, our mood often lowers as well.. Eat lots of protein, leafy greens and fish which will help keep hormones in check and boost serotonin levels You need to also be mindful of what you drink by being careful not to increase your alcohol intake as alcohol is a depressant.
  5. Vitamins and Supplements – There are a number of vitamins and supplements that are beneficial for SAD. The main ones are St John’s Wort which is quite popular and widely available; 5-HTP: 5-hydroxytryptophan comes from an African bean that helps increase brain serotonin levels which when is low tends to trigger depression; We get Vitamin D from Sunlight which during winter some of our vitamin d levels is really low. You can check your vitamin D levels through your GP.
  6. Try and plan for those long winter months if possible. You can exclude projects that could be too challenging i.e. moving house. Ask your manager if you could re-arrange your diary so you are not stuck in doors all day. You can also try and plan something nice at the weekends so you will have things to look forward to rather than going home on Friday and hibernating till Monday.
  7. Light box – Some people find that sitting by a special lamp called a light box for 1/2 hour beneficial. The light here simulates the sunlight that is missing during the winter months.
  8. Try and have fun – You don’t need to plan anything major but this could include avoiding people that will bring you don’t and not understand how you could be feeling, arranging a cosy night in with a comedy DVD and not watching the new 24/7. In fact you can go one step further and avoid the soap operas during the winter as they tend to bring out more and more dramatic story lines to help bolster their ratings which is not good for your mood.
  9.  Talk it through – some people don’t like the winter as it is the time of year they lost someone close so the cold brings back lots of memories. You can also feel very lonely and isolated as most people tend to stay indoors more often. Talking it through will help you explore your feelings and work though any pain that you may be experiencing. If you can’t do this, you can also process you feelings by writing them down in a journal.

Let me know which ones you have tried that have worked for you, in particular any that is not listed here

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