What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and how can we cope with it?

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What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and how can we cope with it?

 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a term a lot of people use to explain how they feel around this time of year; however, it’s not always fully understood. As part of our monthly theme we’re going to talk about what SAD really is and how to help cope with it.

 

What is SAD?

To many people, SAD simply means feeling a bit lower than usual in the winter due to the weather. Whilst this is a part of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder is defined as a form of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern and can be a lot more severe than that.

 

Whilst some people can get it through summer, the most common type of SAD is in the winter because of things like lack of daylight and colder weather. The lack of sunlight can affect melatonin and serotonin levels, hormones that affect your sleepiness, mood and appetite, all of which can contribute to depression. The lack of sunlight can also disrupt your body clock and lead to symptoms of SAD.

 

So, now we know what it is, what are the symptoms?

  • Having a persistent low mood
  • Having a lack of energy, or feeling more tired especially in the morning and evenings
  • Craving comfort foods
  • Being irritable
  • Losing interest in everyday activities, and becoming less sociable
  • Feeling other symptoms of depression, such as hopeless or worthless

Whilst some of these symptoms can be normal for this time of year, for some the symptoms could be a sign of SAD and can massively impact their day to day life.

 

What can you do if you think you suffer from low mood in the winter or SAD?

  • Try to get as much natural daylight as possible – This could mean asking to sit by the window in school or making sure to go for a walk at break.
  • Drink plenty of water – Staying hydrated helps with a lot of things, especially alertness and helping you to feel more awake throughout the day!
  • Try to keep active – Definitely not the easiest this time of year, especially if you feel low on energy, but even a short walk at lunch time can help clear your mind and release hormones to improve your mood.
  • Keep on top of your diet – Also a hard one for this time of year! But keeping an eye on what you’re fuelling your body with may really help improve your overall health and mood. Start easy by aiming for one more portion of fruit a day at school.
  • Spend time around others – the symptoms of SAD can often make people feel lonely, be that mentally or because they do not want to leave the house. Even if you do stay in, spend time with others at home to in the company of others. Being around loved ones can help improve moods and relieve the stress of SAD symptoms.

 

Whilst there are plenty of things you can do improve the symptoms of SAD, it’s important to recognise when it’s becoming a bigger issue effecting your day-to-day life. If you believe it is, you can talk to your doctor or school nurse about it and they can help provide the right support for you.

 

More information on SAD and how to cope with the symptoms can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/

 

If you need someone to talk to about SAD or want more information, you can contact any of the services below;

MIND – Hull and East Yorkshire Mind Infoline
Tel: 01482 240133 (Monday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm)
info@HEYMind.org.uk

 

Samaritans
Tel: 116 123

 

NHS 111

Tel: 111

 

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