A SAD reality for 1 in 3 of us
Few of us express a longing for the colder, darker winter months…during which we often look to the first sign of lighter, warmer days! Unfortunately for some, an aversion to the change in season can mean more than a dislike for the temperature or a change in wardrobe… and can actually reflect a form of depression.
A significant change in your mood and the presence of symptoms associated with depression that come and go with the seasons could indicate an illness known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Research has shown that as many as one in three of us suffer from SAD, with women being 40% more likely to experience characteristics of the illness – but knowing when to seek help and recognise it as being more than the ‘winter blues’ can be difficult.
People who suffer from SAD generally develop symptoms of depression or experience a worsening of their existing depression during the winter, with December, January and February seen to be the most difficult months. These symptoms most typically include lack of energy, low mood, feeling of worthlessness and over sleeping (amongst other things). At times they may become so severe that they hinder ability to maintain regular activities and responsibilities, and gain any satisfaction from daily life.
Some may develop SAD genetically as research has proven it to run in families, however it is also linked to decreased serotonin levels, increased sleep hormones, and disruptions to the body clock that can be reflective of reduced sunlight hours.
Treatment usually follows a similar pattern to that of depression, with therapy, medication and lifestyle adjustments. Taking regular exercise is also widely seen to have a positive impact on all aspects of mental health and is highly recommended.
Anybody suffering from symptoms associated with depression, which may or may not be related to seasonal change should consider seeing their GP. There are also numerous charities that provide advice and information for people who may be suffering with mental health issues such as Mind. If you are looking for talking therapy to help with symptoms associated with depression you may also consider seeing an expert such as a psychotherapist who specialises in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and other methods that can help.