Seasonal Affective Disorder
Do you find yourself experiencing lower mood and struggling with motivation during the darker months? You’re not alone! For some this may just be a mild impact of the changing seasons, for others it can lead to much more severe effects. Whether it’s a small seasonal shift or a diagnosable disorder, this article will take you through some things that may ease the symptoms. If after doing this you still need further support get in touch and discover how I can help you to empower yourself and overcome it.
What is SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a recognised and diagnosable disorder. It is referred to as a type of depression which comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. It is sometimes known as ‘winter depression’ as it most commonly presents with more apparent and sever symptoms during winter. It’s worth noting that SAD can also be impacted more during the summer months, in such cases this may not be the article for you but please get in touch to discover how, together, we can help you overcome it.
How Do I Know If I Have SAD?
Keep in mind that we have a tendency when looking at symptoms of something to recognise those that *may* apply (even loosely) and overlook those that don’t. We are naturally inclined to self diagnose when looking at symptoms. That said, here’s a list of symptoms:
- Persistent low mood
- Low energy
- Struggling to find pleasure in things, especially those that you would normally enjoy
- Feelings of guilt and not feeling worthy
- Feeling of impending doom
- Sleeping later and struggling to get up
- Sleeping in the day and feeling tired
- Craving carbs and junk food
- Weight gain
You may notice that these are in keeping with the symptoms of depression in general. What makes it SAD is these symptoms coming and going in line with the changing seasons. If you have these symptoms and are struggling to cope or if you recognise some of them and want to start feeling better and achieving more, I can help you book a call today.
If you experience some of these at relatively mild levels then the steps below will help to ease the situation. If you experience more of them and/or they are more severe, then the following will still help but you may benefit from one-to-one support.
How Do I Know If I Have SAD?
Everyone is different and depending on your own personal situation you may find different options from the following to be more helpful than others but here are the most effective solutions:
Lifestyle And Environmental
regular exercise is great for lifting and improving mood. It doesn’t’t have to be hours on end at the gym dripping in sweat, small regular improvements can help too. Starting the day with a good stretch to get the blood flowing, doing star jumps while you wait for the kettle to boil, taking the stairs and parking further away in the car park are all simple things that together can make a huge difference.
Getting as much natural daylight as you can, especially in the morning, will improve mood and aid your circadian rhythm.
Managing your stress levels can vastly improve the symptoms and may be part of the underlying cause of depression. There are lots of ways to do this, if you need more help get in touch today.
There are lots of things you can do to improve sleep. Many of these things can improve your mood themselves and better sleep will help you manage and regulate your mood in a much greater way. For more information on sleep get my free guide here.
Light boxes are specially designed lamps which emit a wider range of light than standard lamps. They simulate exposure to daylight and as such can really help to combat winter SAD. You can find them online but make sure you opt for one that is UV free or UV filtered and at least 10,000 Lux. Consider one that can be positioned to shine down on you to reduce the eye glare from it. You will likely be advised to use it for an hour a day and mornings are generally the most effective time for it.
The NHS will likely refer people to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Counselling. As a therapist who uses a range of approaches including talking therapy I agree that this can be a valuable way to understand the causes and exacerbating factors and address them directly rather than focusing only on the symptoms. My approach has proven effective at helping people with depression in various forms so get in touch to see if it’s right for you too.
Hypnotherapy can help work directly on a deeper level rather than focusing on the surface level and symptoms. It’s an effective way of helping to create positive change and build on the above measures. Hypnotherapy can be even more effective with SAD as you can create the release of the same hormones and chemicals as natural sunlight and can create the sensations you would experience in the summer months, thus balancing out the effects of SAD.
To experience this for yourself you can sign up to Relax Club now and take advantage if the UNsad audio track designed specifically to ease the symptoms of sad. Click here to sign up and find out more or get in touch if you’d prefer a more tailored one-to-one approach.
In some cases a vitamin D deficiency may be exacerbating the problem, the Lights mentioned above are designed to help with this but many people recommend taking vitamin D supplements as well or instead.
Of course, if you feel that you may have SAD or related symptoms please do get in touch with someone. That could be me, another therapist or your GP. Either way help is available and you don’t have to struggle alone.