How to reduce the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

*Collaborative post.

Have you ever noticed that when the seasons transition from the sunny summer months into the cold and dreary autumn/winter months, you find yourself feeling deflated, fatigued and unmotivated? You could find that you’re suffering from ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’, otherwise known as ‘SAD’ or ‘Winter Depression’.

What is Seasonal Affect Disorder?

SAD is a type of depression that is generally believed to be linked to a reduced exposure to sunlight during the winter months. It’s thought that the reduction in sunlight causes part of your brain to stop working as well, which can cause heightened/reduced hormone production. Your body also uses natural sunlight to tell you when it’s time to get up and when it’s time to go to sleep; your natural internal body clock can become disrupted due to the reduction in sunlight which can lead to SAD. If you want more information, here’s the Seasonal Affective Disorder page from the NHS website.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

As SAD is a type of depression, the symptoms are common and include struggles such as fatigue and low mood. As with all mental health disorders, people are affected differently; some may struggle immensely to the point their lives become too challenging and they need some extra help. Here are some of the symptoms associated with SAD:

  • a persistent low mood
  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • irritability
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
  • sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
  • craving carbohydrates and gaining weight

How to reduce the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Ultimately, if you feel that you’re struggling to cope, it’s best to visit your GP and discuss your options further. Your doctor will be able to talk to you in depth and go through your symptoms. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or antidepressants may be recommended by your GP if you’re struggling to cope with the effects of SAD. 

Self Care is vital.

Firstly, taking care of yourself is paramount. I wrote an entire blog post that talks about self care during the winter months, and what you can do to help make yourself feel better – here’s the link: Embrace Self Care and Beat The Blues. I’ve spoken about a few ways to make yourself feel better during the darker months; it’s important to remember to be gentle and kind to yourself if you find that you’re struggling. 

It’s not just your mental health that needs to be taken care of, either. Your physical health is just as important! If you’re like me, experiencing colds during winter can really bring you down. They can often develop into further problems for me, but Auris Ear Care can help with loads of ear related issues that can arise, including ear wax removal – something my son has recently had done.

Take a break.

Taking a break from ‘real life’ can make a significant difference to your mood. If you remove yourself from the things that stress you, and replace them with something pleasurable like chilling out in a luxury shower cabin at your nearest spa/gym, or escaping for a weekend away, you’ll allow your brain to reset and refocus. This will make tasks easier to stay on top of once you’re back. 

Light Therapy.

Now that you’ve sorted out your headspace a little and given yourself a chance to recuperate outside of your everyday life, it’s time to tackle things that are closer to home. Light therapy is a great way to help combat the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Light therapy uses bright light from lamps that simulates natural daylight. It’s a brilliant method of combating SAD and one that I have used for years. 

My other half recently bought a light therapy alarm clock {affiliate link} as his job requires him to wake up at 5am. He struggled without the clock as the seasons changed and the nights were longer; however his clock slowly brightens the room half an hour before his alarm goes off, which simulates waking up to natural sunlight. He now finds it much more pleasurable to get up in the morning and finds that his mood throughout the day has improved because he doesn’t feel like he’s been ripped from a deep sleep.

Other options.

Everyone is different, and what works for some, may not work for you. A combination of lifestyle changes and GP recommendations usually help most people feel better, however there are other therapy options to try out. If you’re struggling and need more information on SAD, UK charity MIND has a great page featuring additional therapies and advice.

6 comments

  • These sound like some great tips, SAD can be such an awful thing for people to have to deal with, I always find my mental health dips around October and gets worse and worse until spring comes around.

  • These are some great tips to follow. SAD can be such an awful thing for people to have to deal with, I’m really glad I don’t have any issues with the dark/winter months.

  • I like to get up early as I find I work better at like, 4am than I do later on in the day. But I do find it difficult to get up early during the autumn and winter. I bought a sunrise clock a couple of years ago and I’ve found it works wonders 🙂

    Louise x

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