Be Prepared As The Seasons Change: What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Today, the weather has turned. We have been so lucky over the summer that the dark, wet weather we are usually so ready for comes as a bit of a surprise. We can hold onto the fact that summer was good to us, however as autumn turns onto winter, the days become shorter and many of us try to fight the instinct to hibernate.

The weather can have a big impact on our mood, and it is good to be aware of some of the reasons behind this so we can prepare for the winter season and how it can affect us.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern and is thought to affect about 2 million people in the UK.  The symptoms of SAD recur regularly each winter and usually start between September and November, continuing until March or April and are similar to those for depression.  These include a lack of interest in life, lethargy, feelings of anxiety and an inability to cope.

Treatments for SAD include counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and antidepressants, which are used to treat other types of depression. SAD can also be treated with light therapy which for some people can improve mood considerably. Light therapy involves sitting in front of, or underneath, a light box – a lamp in various designs with a very bright light.

SAD is thought to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter days of the year so light therapy can work by simulating the sunlight that’s missing during the darker winter months. The additional light encourages your brain to reduce the production of melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy) and increase the production of serotonin (the hormone that affects your mood).

You can find out more about SAD, symptoms and treatment from the NHS Choices Website.




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