Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD is the medical term for ‘the winter blues’ or winter depression when the short dark days get you down. It’s a depression that is related to the seasonal changes.

The theory is that a reduction in the level of sunlight in winter causes a disruption to your biological clock (circadian rhythm), Serotonin and Melatonin levels. This causes the lethargy, moodiness, increased appetite and symptoms of depression that occurs in sufferers of SAD.

Other symptoms specific to winter onset SAD are: irritability, problems getting along with other people, hypersensitivity to rejection, heavy “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs and weight gain.

Taking a few steps and adjusting your lifestyle can help to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.

Get more sunlight in your life by going outside as often as possible. It’s not easy in winter but the benefits are big! Even sitting by a window can help. Open your blinds and curtains and trim trees that block the light from your windows.

Your GP can give you more info on ‘light therapy’ (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications.

Eat well during winter by consuming plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables because ‘the winter blues’ can make you crave sugary foods and carbohydrates which only provide temporary feelings of euphoria.

Keeping active has a beneficial effect especially if you exercise outdoors.

Listening to cheery or upbeat music can significantly improve your mood.

Planning a holiday can increase your overall happiness.

Getting involved in the community by volunteering your time can improve your life satisfaction and mental health.

If your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you have been feeling down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, then it’s time to consult with your GP.

Pro Medical SA

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