It’s that time of year where it starts to get colder and the days start to get shorter. You may start to see yourself feeling low and lacking energy. Seasonal affective disorder, known as SAD, is a form of depression that you may experience during the autumn/winter seasons during the year.
In the UK, SAD affects up to three in 100 people at some stage in their life. Most people will start to get symptoms for the first time in their 20s or 30s. Children can be affected too and women are four times more likely to have SAD than men.
Symptoms of SAD
Symptoms of SAD tend to begin in autumn when it starts getting dark early and will continue through to winter. Seasonal symptoms include:
- Feeling low
- Finding it difficult to concentrate
- Less energy
- More tired or sleeping more
- Finding it harder to wake up
- Eating more than usual
- Feeling more anxious
Think SAD could be affecting you? Here’s some ideas to manage seasonal affective disorder:
Getting out during the day
You could be affected by the lack of daylight, so try and take a break from work and going for a walk to make the most of getting outside during the day.
Brighten your environment
Working a desk-based job? Make sure you’re opening any curtains and sitting close to a window to make your space much brighter. What about even adding some indoor plants to feel closer to nature?
Eating well & drinking plenty of water
A healthy and balanced diet is important at all times of the year, but especially so during the winter months. If you’re a healthcare professional or a teacher you’ll be up on your feet all day, so it’s important to remember to be drinking plenty of water throughout the day as well.
Simply moving around and getting some exercise can help with your low moods, as well as improving your physical health. Exercising regularly is a good way to improve your mental wellbeing – why not go for a walk, cycle or a jog outside?
If you’re affected by SAD, it might make it more difficult to socialise. But arranging regular catch-ups with friends, family or even work colleagues will really help brighten your week. It could be as easy as sharing a coffee over a Zoom call?
Light therapy, also known as a SAD lamp, is a form of treatment that helps manage the symptoms of SAD by using a strong, bright light (all UV light has been removed so there is no risks to the skin or eyes by using this method).
There is lots of support available and if you feel like you need someone to speak to, please don’t forget the Samaritans helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.