Now that the weather has well and truly taken a turn for the worst and the grey days seem never-ending, clients start to ask me about SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
Let’s be honest, the bad weather and grey days make us all feel a bit less joyful, but SAD is different.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
is a type of depression that occurs at a specific time of year, typically during the autumn and winter months when there is less natural sunlight. It’s characterised by symptoms such as low energy, mood changes, and a lack of interest in activities that you’d normally enjoy. If you or someone you know is experiencing SAD, there are several strategies and psychological approaches that can help alleviate symptoms and improve mood:
Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, is a common and effective treatment for SAD. It involves exposure to a bright light source that mimics natural sunlight. You can use a lightbox designed for SAD treatment for about 20-30 minutes each morning to help regulate your body’s internal clock and improve mood.
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT):
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours. It can be effective for managing SAD by addressing the negative thought patterns and behaviours associated with the disorder.
Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity can boost mood and energy levels. Even a short daily walk can make a difference.
Healthy Diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can support your overall well-being.
Sleep Hygiene: Maintain a consistent sleep schedule and create a sleep-friendly environment.
Stress Management: Practice stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga to manage stress.
Stay connected with friends and family. Socialising and seeking support from loved ones can help combat feelings of isolation and loneliness, common in SAD.
In more severe cases, your G.P. may recommend antidepressant medications to help manage SAD symptoms.
Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:
Mindfulness meditation and relaxation exercises can help reduce stress and improve mood. They can be especially helpful when incorporated into your daily routine.
Engage in activities that you enjoy and that give you a sense of purpose, even when you don’t feel like it. Having a schedule and planned activities can help combat the lethargy associated with SAD.
Get Sunlight Exposure:
When possible, spend time outdoors during daylight hours. Even on overcast days, natural light exposure can be beneficial.
Keep a Journal:
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you gain insight into your emotional state and identify patterns related to SAD. It can also be therapeutic to express your emotions.
Consult a Mental Health Professional:
If your symptoms are severe or interfering with your daily life, consider seeking professional help. Remember that SAD is a treatable condition, and with the right strategies and support, you can manage its symptoms and improve your mental well-being. It’s essential to consult a healthcare professional or mental health provider to determine the most suitable treatment plan for your specific situation.