Autumn is officially here, and it’s starting to get much colder. As the leaves fall and the days get shorter, some people can start to feel a sense of dread. It’s SAD season – also known as the time of year when Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) sets in. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder affects many people in the UK every year. It’s a type of depression that arises in a seasonal pattern and is often called winter depression. If you think you may suffer from seasonal depression, here are a few things to bear in mind.


What are the symptoms of SAD?

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are similar to those of depression. You might have a persistent low mood paired with intense feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness. You might have lost pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities and feel sleepy throughout the day. You might sleep for longer than usual or find it difficult to sleep at all. To cope with despair and sadness, you may start craving carbs and gaining weight as a result. These symptoms often get more severe in the winter and lessen as the weather warms up again. 


What causes it?

Seasonal depression is believed to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight. We tend to spend less time outdoors in the sunlight in the winter months because the days are shorter and colder. Lack of sunlight can impact a part of the brain called the hypothalamus and inhibit the product of serotonin. Serotonin is the happy hormone that impacts your mood, sleep and appetite. 


There are treatments available 

Thankfully, there are treatments available for SAD, and some of them are easy to get a hold of. You could invest in a SAD lamp to simulate exposure to sunlight and boost your serotonin levels. Or, use bright kitchen paint to open up your living space and welcome more natural light into the home. 

Try to get outside for walks to absorb daylight and some fresh air. Exercise has numerous benefits for your mental health and can help you cope with depressive symptoms. You might not have as much energy as normal. Reserve the weight training for another time, and try a short walk to relieve the feeling of despair temporarily. 

You can also try antidepressant medicine and talking therapies, like CBT. 

Seasonal affective disorder can have a huge impact on your life. Find a treatment plan so you can manage your SAD throughout the winter months and lessen its grasp on your mental health.

Published on Holr Magazine