SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) also known as 'winter depression' or 'winter blues' is where you begin to feel more affected by your anxiety and depression in the cold winter seasons.
SAD is common in younger adults. Even though this winter, depression affects up to 3 in 100 people, it is more often found in women than in men and you most likely start to experience symptoms in your 20s or 30s. Some say SAD is like wanting to hibernate but being forced to stay awake. Imagine matchsticks holding your eyelids open and weights pulling down your smile.
Both the calls of sleep and an endless hunger for comfort food can develop a stream of low mood and lack of enjoyment in life.
Symptoms that can also occur:
Feeling numb and monotone
Being less sociable
Less interested in sex
So how do we lighten the winter weights, remove the matchsticks and look after ourselves in these cold, dark times?
SAD Lamp Therapy, best done in the mornings right after you wake up, can help lift your day and literally brighten your mornings. This is not a cure for SAD but has been known to ease symptoms and some say it can even increase energy levels also. SAD light therapy lamps can be easily found online ranging from £25 to £120. Talk to your doctor about the best one for you.
Never the less there is nothing better than the natural light of our sun (even if it's behind big grey clouds). Natural light is a lot more powerful than artificial light. Walking in the morning will help motivate your muscles, increase blood flow and improve your natural vitamin D intake. Eating a well-balanced diet can also help with the continuous feeling of hunger and can make sure you reap the benefits of all the vitamins the body needs to get through the winter.
Psychotherapy (talking therapy) and Art/Music therapy can all help identify, understand and manage thoughts and behaviours that may be increasing worries and stress around the effects of the seasons. Therapy can help you schedule activities and build in daily or weekly coping skills to keep afloat amongst the dark clouds and heavy rainfall. You can build awareness around your triggers and start to manage the cycle of your habits. Some of the coping skills may include meditation, relaxation techniques, yoga, tai chi or guided stories/imagery.
Most importantly don't confuse a season for a lifetime; spring is on its way and change comes every year without fail.