What is seasonal affective disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that people experience at a particular time of year or during a particular season and is a recognised mental health disorder.
Although many of us are effected by the change in seasons e.g. feeling more energetic when the sun is shining or sleeping longer in winter, seasonal affective disorder will have a much greater affect on your mood and energy levels, and can lead to symptoms of depression that may have a significant impact on your day-to-day life.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 15 people in the UK are effected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD) between the months of September and April. The onset of SAD is estimated to happen between the ages of 18 and 30 and is four times more common in women than it is in men.
You should see your GP if you think you might have SAD and you are finding it difficult to cope.
- Persistent low mood
- Loss of pleasure or interest in everyday activities
- Feeling irritable
- Feelings of despair
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Feeling low on energy and sleepy during the day or sleeping longer than normal
- Craving carbohydrates which may lead to weight gain
- try to get as much natural sunlight as possible – even a brief lunchtime walk can be beneficial
- make your work and home environments as light and airy as possible
- sit near windows when you’re indoors
- take plenty of regular exercise, particularly outdoors and in daylight – read more about exercise for depression
- eat a healthy, balanced diet
- if possible, avoid stressful situations and take steps to manage stress
- It can also be helpful to talk to your family and friends about SAD, so they understand how your mood changes during the winter. This can help them to support you more effectively.
A number of treatments are available for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), including cognitive behavioural therapy, antidepressants and light therapy.
Your GP will recommend the most suitable treatment option for you, based on the nature and severity of your symptoms. This may involve using a combination of treatments to get the best results.