Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
As winter progresses, bringing shorter days and longer nights, many people find themselves struggling with a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short.
SAD is a form of depression triggered by the changing seasons. It affects a large number of people every year and if it’s something you find yourself grappling with, you’ll know about the significant effects it can have on a person’s wellbeing.
Here at The Therapy Room, we see an increase in the number of people contacting us in January as they seek help to tackle SAD and improve their quality of life as a result.
The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do to help manage this condition and in this blog, we’ll be exploring what SAD feels like and how you can alleviate its symptoms.
What are the seasonal depression symptoms?
The symptoms of SAD can vary from person to person but the most common ones are:
- Feeling sad, low, tearful, guilty or hopeless
- Isolating yourself from other people
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling tired or experiencing a lack of energy
- Feeling anxious, angry and agitated
- Sleeping too much or having difficulty waking up
- Sleeping too little or waking up a lot during the night
- Loss of appetite
- Being more prone to physical health problems, such as colds, infections or other illnesses
- Losing interest in sex or physical contact
- Experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings
“It’s just a case of the winter blues”
If you’ve suffered from SAD for many years, you may have heard the phrase – “it’s just a case of the winter blues” often also referred to as the ‘January blues’.
It’s true that this time of year can make a lot of people feel a bit low but SAD is more than that. It’s a legitimate mental health concern that can have a significant effect on a person’s ability to enjoy life.
It’s not something that anyone should just be expected to “live with” but instead, a condition that deserves help and support to tackle and manage.
Five DIY tips to help you manage SAD this winter
Just like any mental health condition, SAD cannot be cured overnight. However, there are a number of things you can do to help manage it:
- Prioritise light exposure – One of the primary culprits behind SAD is believed to be the lack of exposure to natural sunlight, which plays a crucial role in the production of serotonin. Therefore, try and tackle this by getting outside as often as possible. For example, walk to the local shop instead of driving, or make an effort to visit your local park once a week.
- Consider light therapy – Light therapy involves sitting next to a special lamp (also known as a light box) for half an hour every morning. These lamps mimic natural sunlight and therefore can regulate your body’s internal clock and improve your mood. Make sure you do your research beforehand to ensure that this option is safe for you.
- Stay active – It’s no secret that exercise is good for your mental health and getting active will go some way in reducing your symptoms of SAD. We’re not expecting you to run a marathon, but a light jog or brisk walk every day will definitely improve your state of mind.
- Have things to look forward to – A lot of people take time off over the festive period and are then faced with having to go back to work at the beginning of January with nothing to look forward to. Combat this by booking activities and events in January and February. If you’re feeling flush, you could book a winter break abroad or a weekend trip to London. If Christmas has cleared you out, perhaps a day trip to see a friend or family member, or an outing to a local museum. Whatever it is, having things to look forward to does wonders for your mental health.
- Mindful practices – Practice mindfulness, meditation, or deep-breathing exercises to manage stress and enhance your overall mental wellbeing during the winter months. Taking just five minutes out of your day to reset can really help.
Can a therapist help?
If you suffer from SAD every year and it’s something you’ve come to dread, please know that you don’t have to suffer in silence anymore and that there is help you can access.
Here at The Therapy Room, our approach in helping people deal with SAD involves providing a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to express their emotions and feelings.
We know that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work when it comes to therapy and we’ll explore the cyclical nature of SAD, how exactly it affects you, and why it might affect you in that way.
We’ll then be able to prescribe a bespoke course of action and identify what targeted interventions we can put in place together.
You deserve to feel good throughout the whole year. Get in touch and let’s see what we can do to help you this winter.
Founder Jay L Pink Ad.Prof.Dip MBACP PC MNCS (ACC) established The Therapy Room to offer high quality, expert counselling and therapy services to people of all ages, as well as to couples for relationship and partner counselling and groups for corporate and family therapy. Jay’s commitment to anyone visiting The Therapy Room is to unconditionally respect values, lifestyle, background and beliefs, offering a discreet and professional service tailored to their needs.
Therapy is held either in-person at The Therapy Room in Northampton or online.
To organise a booking, please visit our bookings and payment page.