Overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder this winter

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Health Assured team

20 September 2021

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the change of the seasons. Many people who experience it suffer from depressive symptoms during the darker winter months. But it can also affect people during the spring—summertime. 

As September gets into full swing, the nights are creeping in closer each day. For people with SAD, this change can begin to trigger depressive symptoms. Life becomes difficult, mood plummets and negative emotions take over. 

This guide will help you to recognise the symptoms of SAD. We’ll also cover different ways you can get help or help others who may be struggling around you. 

Symptoms of SAD 

SAD Symptoms have similarities to depression. Many sufferers will experience the symptoms at a particular time each year. Below are some common signs to look out for: 

  • Lack of energy. 
  • Finding it hard to concentrate.
  • Sleeping problems (oversleeping & struggle sleeping).
  • Being more susceptible to physical health problems like infections, colds and illnesses. 
  • Feeling persistently down, sad or tearful. 
  • Suicidal feelings. 
  • Not enjoying things you normally do. 
  • Weight changes. 

This list isn’t exhaustive. And that’s not to say that everyone will experience every symptom on this list. But often, these are the struggles that people with SAD experience daily. 

Getting help with SAD 

SAD can be painful to experience. There are ways to relieve the symptoms, but everyone is unique. So what works for others might not work for you. When you find what soothes symptoms for you, keep at it. Having a coping mechanism to fall back on during tough times can transform your experience of SAD. 

Counselling  

Counselling can help process the difficult emotions you—or someone you know—might be experiencing. The counsellor can provide a listening ear during tough times. They can help you to find coping strategies that work for you. There are different types of counselling available. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) tends to work best with this kind of depression. CBT is goal-oriented. It helps people to change negative thought patterns in a short time—normally about 6 weeks. You can get referred for counselling through your GP. But if your workplace has an employee assistance plan, you may be able to access it this way too. 

Self-care  

Remember that these feelings won’t last forever. Self-care can help you make peace with painful emotions when they arise. It could include mindfulness, writing down emotions or practising gratitude. These snippets of reflection time will help you find space from overwhelming feelings. 

Physical wellbeing  

Taking care of your physical health can help keep the blues at bay. Make sure you’re eating nutritious foods, regularly exercising and getting enough sleep. Group exercise classes have also been shown to boost mental health. But any physical activity you can take part in will help release endorphins and raise your energy levels. When bouts of depression hit, get moving and see if it helps. 

Talk to your GP 

Your GP can help. Don’t be afraid to make an appointment. It can sometimes feel daunting to take this step. But they can provide guidance and support to make it better. They will provide more information to help you understand the feelings you’re experiencing. They’ll also be able to guide you to other options that can help. 

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