Seasonal Affective Disorder: Blog

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression which people experience during particular seasons or times of year. There’s a lot of research into SAD in winter, where it’s often tied with the shorter daylight hours, but SAD can affect people during any season or time of the year. We spoke to Cam, one our supporters,  about their experiences of SAD:

“For me, I’ve always noticed it from November to February. For the last ten years, as the nights start to get much longer and the cold weather and rain seep in, I’ve found it hard to motivate myself. My energy levels start to dip, simple tasks feel increasingly difficult, and it really interferes with my ability to get on with life. Working standard office hours in December, my commute starts before the sun is fully up, and I walk home in the dark. It can feel really difficult to get out of bed – like darkness and gloom have settled over my whole life, so there’s not much point in trying. While I feel it every year, the severity definitely varies. I used to work evenings, which meant that I had the hours of daylight free – and being able to get out and make the most of those hours would always make things easier.

This year, with the COVID-19 lockdown, it’s been more difficult than usual: I don’t need to walk to work any more, which means that when the weather’s bad I sometimes stay inside all day. It feels like a sensible decision at the time, but the extra time indoors makes it easy to fall into a pattern of inactivity – and then I end up feeling much worse. I find it helps to identify patterns like that, and to make an effort to break that cycle. It helps me to remember that self-care isn’t just having a bath, or snuggling further into the duvet to watch a rom-com; som

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression which people experience during particular seasons or times of year. There’s a lot of research into SAD in winter, where it’s often tied with the shorter daylight hours, but SAD can affect people during any season or time of the year. We spoke to one our supporters about their experiences of SAD:

“For me, I’ve always noticed it from November to February. For the last ten years, as the nights start to get much longer and the cold weather and rain seep in, I’ve found it hard to motivate myself. My energy levels start to dip, simple tasks feel increasingly difficult, and it really interferes with my ability to get on with life. Working standard office hours in December, my commute starts before the sun is fully up, and I walk home in the dark. It can feel really difficult to get out of bed – like darkness and gloom have settled over my whole life, so there’s not much point in trying. While I feel it every year, the severity definitely varies. I used to work evenings, which meant that I had the hours of daylight free – and being able to get out and make the most of those hours would always make things easier.

This year, with the COVID-19 lockdown, it’s been more difficult than usual: I don’t need to walk to work any more, which means that when the weather’s bad I sometimes stay inside all day. It feels like a sensible decision at the time, but the extra time indoors makes it easy to fall into a pattern of inactivity – and then I end up feeling much worse. I find it helps to identify patterns like that, and to make an effort to break that cycle. It helps me to remember that self-care isn’t just having a bath, or snuggling further into the duvet to watch a rom-com; sometimes self-care means taking ten minutes to do the washing up, forcing yourself to go for a walk when you’d much rather stay in bed, or dragging yourself to the GP to ask for help – and it’s often the things that feel hardest which will make the biggest difference.”

Getting Help

  • Mind have self-care tips and information about treatments for both Summer and Winter SAD on their website, here.
  • Some people who experience SAD in winter find light therapy helpful. Light therapy involves sitting next to a specially designed light box which simulates sunlight. Other people use a “light therapy alarm clock”, which simulates a sunrise. You can read more about light therapy from the NHS.
  • Because SAD is a type of depression, it’s generally recommended that it’s treated in the same way as non-seasonal depression. One of the first things we suggest for anyone experiencing a mental health problem is a visit to the GP, who will be able to take you through treatment options – including talking therapies and medication. The treatment options you choose are personal to you, but the GP is a good place to start.

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