Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

How to deal with seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

By Tyler Law Nov 8, 2023
Seasonal affective disorder is more common in the winter months Credit: Unsplash/Warren

Now that the clocks have gone back, and the days are shorter, you may be getting Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD is recognised by psychologists as a form of depression that can be dependent on the weather and temperature. 

For some people that can mean that they get low moods in the winter, but these symptoms can also come up for people in the summer. 

Symptoms of SAD that you may recognise may be: 

  • Low mood 
  • Loss of pleasure in everyday activities 
  • Being irritable 
  • Feeling constantly tired all the time 
  • Finding it hard to wake up 
  • Weight gain and craving carbs 
  • Not being able to concentrate 
  • Having a lower sex drive

Just as we are all affected in different ways, the methods to combat SAD will often depend on your individual preferences and how you respond to different treatments. 

KU student Jessica Jesudian says that she “listens to a lot of Christmas music” as a method to help lift her spirits during the cold, dark winter months. 

Another technique involves light therapy – this uses a special bright light box that simulates the UV light from the sun during the dark winter. 

While some of the techniques for combating SAD are unique to the winter months, many of them are like the suggested methods for dealing with symptoms of depression. 

According to the NHS some of the most effective ways to help with SAD include keeping active. Research has shown that a daily one-hour walk could be as effective as light treatment for coping with winter blues. 

The NHS says: “It’s thought the light may improve SAD by encouraging your brain to reduce the production of melatonin and increase the production of serotonin.” 

Try to get outside as much as you can, allowing yourself as much time in natural light outside as possible. 

Staying warm and eating a healthy diet could also boost your mood, as could taking up a new hobby, keeping your mind active and occupied with new stimuli.

Seeing your friends and family and staying social has shown to be “good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues,” according to the NHS. 

While many of these may seem like incredibly simple ways to combat SAD and low moods, it is important to keep in mind that simple is not synonymous with easy. 

Feelings of depression and low moods can make it incredibly difficult to do even the simplest things, and so it is important to be kind to yourself, take things one step at a time and reach out for help when needed. 

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