Is it normal to feel seasonally ‘SAD’?

FOR many, the turn of the seasons from summer to winter means cosy jumpers, pumpkin spiced lattés, Christmas presents and the promise of a new year just around the corner.

However, for others it means a lack of energy, mood changes, social problems and maybe even depression, anxiety and panic attacks.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition that predominantly makes itself known during the cooler months and effects thousands in the UK every year.

Mental health charity, Mind, describes the condition as: “A form of depression that people experience at a particular time of year or during a particular season.

“It is a recognised mental health condition.”

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As well as Mind, there are many resources in Southampton available for mental health help and advice.

A doctor may give a diagnosis of SAD if a person has been experiencing a number of the following symptoms in the same season for at least two or three years: lack of energy, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, changes in mood, changes in diet, lowered immune system, low libido, social problems or an increase in drug or alcohol use.

It is normal, to a certain extent, to feel more energetic and cheerful in the sunnier months, or a little more lethargic in the winter months.

However, these changes which are subtle for most will have a much greater effect on a person with SAD.

It is most common for SAD to effect sufferers during the winter months but the condition has also been known to occur in reverse, with symptoms arising in summer.

SAD is very common in countries such as the UK due to the considerably noticeable weather changes.
SAD is very common in countries such as the UK due to the considerably noticeable weather changes.

According to Mind: “SAD is most common in countries like the UK where there are large changes in the weather and daylight hours in the different seasons.”

It isn’t completely clear what causes the condition but theories have been made involving the effects of light, our internal body clock, and serotonin and melatonin levels.

As with most mental health conditions, treatments are prescribed on a case-by-case basis but can include talking treatments, drug treatments, and light therapy.

You don't have to be affected by the condition yourself in order to help.
You don’t have to be affected by the condition yourself in order to help.

If you think you or someone you know may be affected by SAD, make an appointment with your GP or visit the Mind website for more information.

Local student Sophie Luckett talks about her journey with mental health and finding treatment in the audio clip below.

by Aimee Barnes (@_AimeeBarnes)