Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is what some individuals experience during certain seasons in the year. It is a type of Depression, causing low mood which affects day-to-day activities in the Summer or Winter months, although, commonly known as Winter Depression as symptoms appear to be more apparent then.

Individuals’ mood and energy levels may become low, when the weather becomes warmer or colder, with their sleep or eating pattern being affected, but if the symptoms continue, there might be a possibility that the individual has Depression.

Some of the signs and symptoms of SAD might be:

  • Poor concentration.
  • Sleeping too much or not enough.
  • Decrease in sex drive.
  • Gaining weight through comfort eating.
  • Dark thoughts.
  • Feeling irritable, frustrated, and angry.
  • Isolating self.
  • Low energy.
  • Low immunity, contracting general viruses.
  • Feeling tearful and emotional.
  • Underlying mental health conditions can become worse.

SAD is linked to a reduction to exposure to sunlight, with the theory, that a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, does not work efficiently, increasing the levels of the hormone melatonin, which makes people feel sleepy. Lower exposure of sunlight can also decrease the levels of serotonin produced, which is linked to low mood and Depression. Additionally, individuals body clocks are affected by sunlight, so that during the Winter months, when there is less sunlight, the body clock can become disrupted.

If individuals are struggling to cope, it is important that they see their GP, who can undertake an assessment for their mental health, giving advise on what suitable treatments they can take, to improve their wellbeing, such as:

  • Psychological Talking Therapies.
  • Antidepressant medication, such as oral medication to improve the Serotonin reuptake.
  • Lifestyle measures, such as exercising and going outside as much as possible in natural sunlight, to improve low mood and manage stress levels.
  • Light therapy can also help, where a light box is used to stimulate natural light.