With the clocks going back and the evenings drawing in most people feel a bit of a lul’ in mood. But for some the winter blues can be much worse.
Those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) also known as “ the winter blues” experience a much greater change in their mood and energy levels than the rest of us. So much so that it has a significant impact on their day-to-day life
SAD or “the winter blues” is form of depression that people experience at a particular time, normally in the winter months, although more rarely it can occur over the summer.
Like other forms of depression SAD can be triggered by a traumatic event, such a loss of a loved one or serious illness. Research suggests that people who move from a more tropical climate are also more at risk.
Treatment of SAD
Getting diagnosed with SAD can be difficult because the symptoms are very similar to other types of depression. It may take several years for you and your GP to establish that the symptoms come at a regular time.
But even without a diagnosis, if you suspect you have SAD, then there are things you can do to help reduce the severity of the symptoms:
Plan stressful events for the summer: If you know you are going to be moving house, having a baby, taking on extra work do it in the months when you know you will be feeling better
Make the most of natural light: Try and get as much exposure to sunlight as possible. This could be by walking part of your journey to work or going for a stroll at lunch time.
Look after yourself: Get out in green space, exercise, eat well. All these things are shown to improve symptoms, although you may not feel like it at the time you will feel better for it.
Light box: According to the SAD association (SADA) “ light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 per cent of diagnosed cases” Normal domestic lighting doesn’t have enough lux (measure of luminance) to treat SAD . Light box treatment will usually take at between 30 minutes to 1 hour a day but it is not available on the NHS.
Once diagnosed SAD can be treated with therapies used for more common types of depression including antidepressants and CBT.
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Featured image accredited to Kip Dudden