Have you got seasonal affective disorder?

The change in seasons, colder weather and shorter days can negatively impact your mental health.

Many of us at this time of the year can begin feeling low, and you may even be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, but what is it?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.

It is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter.

Some people may even have symptoms during the summer and feel better during winter months.


According to the NHS, the Symptoms of SAD are:

  • A persistent low mood
  • A loss of pleasure or interest in everyday activities
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • Feeling lethargic (lacking energy) and sleeping during the day
  • Sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
  • Craving carbs and gaining weight


What causes SAD? 

The causes of SAD aren’t fully understood; however, it is often linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days.

The main theory is that a lack of sunlight could stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which could affect the production of melatonin, serotonin and the body’s internal clock.


What can you do to combat it?

If you think that you might have SAD, then you should seek help from your Nurse Case Manager. You should also try to concentrate on self-care.

Here are some suggestions which may help you if you’re suffering from either the ‘winter blues’ or SAD:

  • Get as much natural sunlight as possible
  • Sit close to natural light if possible when you’re indoors
  • Make sure to exercise regularly, especially outdoors
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Have a consistent sleep routine


Text References

Kelly, T – Huffpost. (2019). What Happens To Your Brain When You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder? Accessible: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/what-happens-to-your-brain-when-you-have-seasonal-affective-disorder_uk_5c019333e4b0a173c022eec8. Last Accessed: 9 January 2019.

NHS. (2019). Overview Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Accessible: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/. Last Accessed: 3 January 2019.