Today’s guest post comes from Jessica, who takes on the topic of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern, related to the changes in seasons, around the same time every year.
SAD is also known as “winter depression”. Although symptoms can be present all year round, they tend to be more severe during the autumn/winter months. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.
It’s common to be affected by changing seasons and weather or to have times of the year when you feel more or less comfortable. For example, you might find that your mood or energy levels drop when it gets colder or warmer, or notice changes in your sleeping, mood and eating patterns.
But if you’re feelings are interfering with your day to day life, it could be a sign that you have depression – and if they keep coming back at the same time of year, your GP might call this Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Below is a list of several SAD symptoms, although it varies for different people, and can vary season to season, so you might also have other kinds of feelings which aren’t listed here:
• lack of energy
• finding it hard to concentrate
• not wanting to see people or socialise
• 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
• other symptoms of depression
If you also have other mental health problems, you might find that things get worse at times when you’re affected by SAD.
There are a number of simple things you can try that may help improve your symptoms, including:
• 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
• do plenty of exercise, particularly outdoors and in daylight
It can also be helpful to talk to your family and friends about SAD, so they understand how your mood changes during the seasons. This can help them to support you more effectively.
You can also access Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Light Therapy for the treatment of SAD, through your GP. I personally have a lightbox, which allows my bedroom to be bright and not dark/dull in the winter months.
I was diagnosed with SAD when I was around 17 years old. I get bad in summer and then from October through to January time. As I have Borderline Personality Disorder (also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) too, SAD causes my behaviour to become much worse and my moods too. I basically disappear for a few months; I find it easier to deal with if I’m at home during night time when it’s dark, with all my curtains closed and all the lights on! I have a few salt lamps too that I have on, as well as candles.
I think it’s so important to raise awareness of this disorder as it can be so debilitating to live with, especially on top of another mental illness.
Please reach out if you think you are suffering from SAD – don’t stay silent.
A huge thank you to Jessica for her contribution to the discussion on Seasonal Affective Disorder.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this post, please see below for some useful resources, or make contact with your GP.
(Please note: The following links are affiliate links. For more information, please read my disclaimer).
- Light box
- “Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder” by Guilford Press
- “Coping with the Seasons (Workbook): A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach to Seasonal Affective Disorder (Treatments That Work)” by Oxford University Press, U.S.A.