Seasonal affective disorder also known as (SAD) or winter depression, comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. The symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days start to get shorter and darker.
Sleep problems, finding the need to sleep more, oversleeping and difficulty staying awake during the day. Early morning awakening or insomnia. Finding it hard to get up in the morning.
Lethargy or fatigue.
Overeating increased desire to eat carbohydrates to boost mood
Anxiety or feelings of tension.
Inability to deal with stress
Depression, low mood, feelings of worthlessness, persistent low mood, loss of pleasure in normal activities. Feelings of despair.
Lowered immune system, more vulnerable in the winter months to catch infections or virus.
Loss of libido reduces sex drive or physical contact
When to seek help
For some people these symptoms can become very severe and have a significant impact on their daily activities, 21% of the UK population are affected to a lesser degree, this is called sub-syndrome, sad or winter blues. 8% or more have a more serious illness this is seasonal addictive disorder.
The National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) recommend that SAD should be treated in the same way as other types of depression.
Your doctor can carry out an assessment to check your mood, lifestyle, eating habits and sleeping patterns, plus look at any seasonal changes in your mood.
What Cause SAD?
There are several theories but the main theory, is lack of sunlight.
Production of melatium, this is the hormone that makes you feel sleepy with SAD it may produce higher levels.
Production of serotonin
This is the hormone that affects the mood appetite and sleep patterns. It is thought that with SAD or depression that people have lower levels of serototorin. Which is linked to feelings of depression.
Body’s internal clock (Circadian rhythm)
Your body uses sunlight, to time various important functions such as when you wake up so lower light levels during the winter may disrupt your body clock and lead to symptoms of sad.
Genes: Some people may be more vulnerable as a result of genes as in some situations it may run in families.
Talking therapies e.g: Cognitive behavior therapy or counselling.
Antidepressants medication, these may include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRI’s are the preferred choice as they increase the serotonin in the brain.
BE AWARE It can take up to six weeks for a medication to work and some come with side effects. You should continue to take the medication until you see your GP. Never abruptly stop medication it should always be gradually stopped.
Healthy eating, a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle can improve symptoms.
Some people use a light box which is thought to help lift the mood.
If you or a family member is experiencing symptoms of SAD, See you’re GP or go online there is plenty of useful resources which will help you. Please find some Charites below:
Claudette is a passionate campaigner and activist for mental health stigma and domestic abuse. She believes that everyone should be treated equally regardless of their disability or gender. She has diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder, endometriosis, Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. Claudette has a certificate in Management studies. Her interests include beauty, makeup, animals politics, current affairs and social networking.