Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) is a seasonal curse for many Irish people which is experienced during the late autumn and winter months when the days become shorter. It is understood that some factors which may lead to the disorder are a reduced level of daylight which interrupts the body’s biological clock and normal functioning. There is also a change in serotonin and melatonin levels, the brain chemicals which affects our mood and sleep patterns. S.A.D is a type of depression with many similar symptoms such as feeling low, tiredness, sadness, oversleeping, low energy, difficulty concentrating and hypersensitivity. It was traditionally referred to as the winter blues or winter depression and suffers often display hibernation like characteristics.
Finding what works for you to reduce your symptoms is important as there is no one single cure, rather a combination of many little daily remedies…
According to a survey in 2007, around 20% of Irish people are effected by Season Affective Disorder with women more prone than men. For someone who starts to experience low mood and negative feelings during the winter, it can be relief to understand that there is a reason for their change in mood which may in fact be associated with the shorter winter days.
Simple Ways of Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Light therapy is a way of treating seasonal affective disorder using exposure to artificial light.
- Talk therapies such as Psychotherapy can provide you with professional emotional support and understanding.
- Managing and reducing stress is a useful preventative measure.
- Practicing self-care by actively looking after your emotional and physical health and being sensitive to your own needs.
- Holistic Therapies such as Reflexology, Massage and Reiki can help boost energy levels and promote relaxation.
- Get as much sunlight or daylight as possible by spending time outdoors.
- Daily regular exercise helps promote a healthy mind and body.
- Sleep is important as it helps the body to recuperate if you are suffering from low energy.
- Find the beauty in winter and connect with the positive aspects of wintertime.
- Enjoy outdoor activities which are not overly weather dependent that you can enjoy all year round such as hill walking or running.
- Keep a daily routine and make plans throughout the winter which you can look forward to.
- Avoid stimulants and any mood altering substances such as alcohol can help to stabilise your mood.
- Socialise with family and friends and surround yourself with positive people.
- Nutritionists suggest that Vitamin D supplements and Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for S.A.D.
- Get to know and respect your own body and find what works for you each winter.
- Talking to your loved ones and family about your symptoms of S.A.D can ensure that you receive ongoing emotional support and reassurance.
- Medications prescribed by a G.P are sometimes used to treat symptoms.
- Getting away for winter holidays in bright warm sunny destinations during the winter period can help significantly lift and relieve symptoms.
Prevention is better than cure but for most suffers, managing S.A.D is far more realistic than preventive cures. You might find it useful to be mindful and sensitive to changes in your mood coming into the autumn/winter months. Finding what works for you to reduce your symptoms is important as there is no one single cure, rather a combination of many little daily remedies and I guarantee you, every single one counts. Keep reminding yourself that S.A.D is seasonal and symptoms will eventually fade as the beautiful crisp brighter spring days arrive. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about Seasonal Affective Disorder.