What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?
It's November, it's getting darker, colder and for some of us, that's not great.
"Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that you experience during particular seasons or times of year. Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time, and affects your everyday life.
If you have SAD, you'll experience depression during some seasons in particular, or because of certain types of weather."
Quote from Mind
Personally, I wouldn't say I have SAD, but I am affected by some of the symptoms. For me it's being mindful of what and how I am affected, to support my future wellbeing. So in preparation for the lower moods likely to come I am thinking about how I am affected and what SAD is.
I believe we are all affected, differently, to some extent by changing seasons and weather, or have times of year when we feel more or less settled. There may be times when our mood or energy levels drop, possibly because it is colder or warmer. Maybe your sleeping or eating patterns changes... That's the key I think, the change.
From the sources (Mind, NHS, Mental Health Foundation) I have read the symptoms of SAD seem to be/ include:
Lack of energy
Finding it hard to concentrate
Not wanting to see people
Sleep problems, such as sleeping more or less than usual, difficulty waking up, or difficulty falling or staying asleep
Feeling sad, low, tearful, guilty or hopeless
Changes in your appetite, for example feeling more hungry or wanting more snacks
Being more prone to physical health problems, such as colds, infections or other illnesses
Losing interest in sex or physical contact
Each individual is different and how they experience SAD can vary, their experience can include the above and or other symptoms.
With that in mind, it's important to say SAD can affect you at any time of year. I have spoken to people that experience SAD in the summer, so it is not just a winter illness.
Reported treatments and support include:
Lifestyle measures – including getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly and managing your stress levels
Light therapy – a lamp/ light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight
Talking therapies – such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or counselling
For me, making sure I get outside and have time breathing in outdoor air is so important. I am very fond of the beach, forest walks, catching Pokemon and taking photos. I have also benefited from a number of rounds/ seasons of therapy and continually taking my medication. I have never tried a light box, but I imagine it would a very good tool for many.
This is my experience of and thoughts about SAD, your's may be different, that's ok.
If you think you may be affected by SAD, depression or any mental health illness please contact your GP.
In regards to treatments, particularly medication, you should always contact and discuss your thoughts/ options with a GP before making any changes.
Find out more about SAD on the NHS website.
I hope you have a good November whatever you are doing. I also hope you are able to feel free from the pressures that can exist at this time of the year.
You are not alone.