SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder affects around two million people each year, and as the nights are getting longer it’s around this time of year it’s going to start creeping upon you.
“Many people don’t consider SAD to be a real form of depression due to its seasonal nature; but the symptoms and feelings that people experience are very real and just as severe as other types of depression. SAD presents most commonly in women and occurs from October through to January.” says AXA PPP healthcare’s Dr Mark Winwood.
The exact causes of SAD are still not understood but reduced exposure to sunlight during the shortest days of the year is the most likely cause. It’s believed that the lack of sunlight affects how the neurotransmitter serotonin works in the brain that this affects mood, sleep and appetite.
The symptoms can be hard to spot. Like many other types of depression, the main symptoms include low mood and a lack of interest in life. Additional symptoms often include:
- Being less active than normal
- Feeling tired and sleeping more than normal (hypersomnia)
- Feeling lethargic
- Finding it difficult to concentrate
- Weight gain through a higher intake of carbohydrates and sugars
Dr Winwood continued: “Walking and exercising outside in daylight hours, eating a diet rich in fresh vegetables and seeking support from friends and family are all ways in which you can help ease the symptoms of SAD yourself. If these don’t help, then it is important to seek professional advice from your GP or Health provider who can advise on the best course of treatment.”