Sad or SAD?
A re you feeling the seasonal slump?
Have you noticed a change in your mood or loss of motivation recently?
These changes could be the result of the change in seasons.
As the days get shorter and the temperature drops, it can have a direct affect on our bodies.
The changes in external factors can leave us feeling lethargic, down and in a lot of cases, generally anxious or unsure about things.
If you’re experiencing any of this, please know that is completely normal. So many people suffer the transition into winter, internally.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD or the “winter depression”, is a type of depression that comes and goes based on a seasonal pattern.
In most cases, symptoms are more apparent/ severe during the winter months. Hence it being dubbed the winter depression.
Before going into detail about SAD, I want to reiterate the fact that there is a difference between SAD and feeling sad. It’s important to know that difference.
Your mood and energy levels can drop or change and nothing be ‘wrong’ with you. Going through the motions is what makes us human.
SAD is a depressive disorder.
This post is designed to give some information and hopefully some helpful tips, whether you suffer from SAD, want to help someone, or if you’re feeling low at the moment.
You don’t need a diagnosis to make healthy changes or choices.
Historically, SAD hasn’t always been taken seriously. It can be used quite flippantly or seen as a convenient excuse for not taking part in things or general loss of motivation.
These attitudes need to change - it’s a type of depression that seriously affects people’s lives.
1 in 3 people living in the UK suffer with SAD.
Historically, SAD hasn’t always been taken seriously. It can be used quite flippantly or seen as a convenient excuse for not taking part in things or general loss of motivation. These attitudes need to change - it’s a type of depression that seriously affects people’s lives.
SAD can be difficult to diagnose. It is a seasonal disorder, so it comes and goes.
Like many mental health conditions, SAD exists on a spectrum.
Currently, there is not one definitive cause of SAD, rather a range of factors that contribute.
One of these factors is thought to be the lack of sunlight.
Some studies show that lack of sunlight can affect the workings of our bodies. Lack of sunlight exposure can affect:
the performance of the hypothalamus which linked to the production of melatonin - the ‘sleepy hormone’ production of serotonin, a hormone linked to our appetite and sleep
our bodies’ internal clock.
Our natural sleeping patterns may be disrupted.
Genetics may also play a part.
Symptoms range from:
Low energy which can affect your productivity and motivation levels
Loss of self esteem
Loss of pleasure in everyday activities
Feeling of despair, guilt, worthlessness and some cases suicidal
Lethargic as a result of low energy which makes you sleepy during the day, unable to get enough sleep or poor quality of sleep
Finding it hard to get up in the morning and start your day, not seeing the ‘point’ in things
Craving carbs and gaining weight
Loss of sex drive
Not caring about things you usually would like your appearance, time keeping etc.
External factors can influence your body and mental well being to any extent. If you are struggling to cope, or feel like anything discussed here applies to you, consider speaking to your GP.
It might be that you just need someone to vent to but it could be more than that. Don’t suffer in silence.
However, there are other treatments out there, ones that any one can try.
Examine elements of your lifestyle that are linked to your mental health:
Exercise - no one is expecting you to spend all your free time at the gym, life is too busy for that. It is worth assessing whether you do enough exercise. It doesn’t need to be anything too drastic - wrap up warm and go for a walk. Join a class. Whatever you’re comfortable with.
Diet - we’re not suggesting you go on one, just that you maintain a healthy one.
Stress management - we all have stress in our lives, but if you’re dealing with more than your fair share it’s worth developing a plan to tackle it.
Light therapy has also proved to be effective. Light boxes are designed to simulate light exposure. Here is a useful link for more information regarding that. Even just setting it for an hour in the morning before you wake up can make a difference
Talking has been championed as the best type of treatment for all kinds of issues concerning our mental health. This is no different. Talk to your friends, seek counselling, join an online forum.
In more severe cases, like most types of depression, medication is the most viable form of treatment. To learn more about them, click here.
And that brings us to the end of this post. Hopefully you’ve found it helpful, and maybe even learned something.
If you take away anything from this, let it be that anyone can suffer the symptoms mentioned previously, you don’t have to be ill to experience them. Not having a condition doesn’t make your situation any less relevant.
That being said, SAD is a form of depression. It’s not a case of low mood or being stuck in a winter rut - there is a genuine imbalance there that needs to be medicated.
Be kind and respectful to people - you never know how change affects them.