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  • Writer's pictureDiane Ferguson

Feeling S.A.D.?

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

This time of year can leave some of us feeling rather fed up. The summer has gone, taking with it the longer, warmer days. Often our positive outlook can leave us too. Many of us can relate to the lack of wanting to get out of bed on the dark cold mornings, but for a number of people, it can be much harder than having that Monday morning feeling.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is the name given to a collection of symptoms brought on by the lack of natural daylight in the autumn/winter months. Sufferers experience

  • Feeling low in mood a lot of the time

  • A lack of energy that is not resolved by a good night’s sleep

  • Cravings for high carb foods

  • Irritability

  • Brain fog

  • A lack of motivation.

What causes S.A.D.?

Without sunlight, our bodies struggle to produce the hormones melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin is the hormone released when it’s time for bed. It’s what helps us drop off to sleep. Serotonin is known as the ‘feel good’ hormone. When we combine a drop in melatonin with low serotonin levels, we notice a lack of energy and a feeling of persistent low mood.

We can encourage our bodies to continue to release these important hormones effectively by going to bed and waking at our regular times, getting out in the daylight, and getting some exercise. It may be helpful to take a walk during lunch break if you are someone that is unfortunate to have a commute in the dark.

Self-help tips

  • Spend time outdoors when possible, make the most of the brightest days.

  • When you can’t get out, try to sit by a window to get some natural light.

  • Eat a balanced diet and keep hydrated.

  • Introduce some exercise into your routine, a short walk outdoors can make a big difference.

  • Relaxation, mindfulness, or a new hobby can lift mood and help energy levels.

  • Talk to family, a friend, or a counsellor if you are feeling down.

  • Talk to your Gp if these self care steps don’t help, or your mood worsens. You may be helped by lamp therapy or a course of anti depressant medication.

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