Friday 30 January 2015

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Winter arrives and with it brings rain, gale force winds and snow.  It also means it gets darker earlier and we don't get as much sunlight as we do during spring and summer.  I have always felt a bit different when winter arrives but nothing that worries me as I am simply adjusting to the darker days and the temperatures.  For some, however, winter brings more than just horrible weather it also brings Seasonal Affective Disorder into their daily routine.

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a form of depression.  Unlike other types of depressions SAD occurs during the winter months.  It is also known as winter depression and the symptoms tend to be more severe December through to February with symptoms calming down as we head into Spring.

Researchers are still not 100% sure of the exact cause of SAD but they think it could be linked to the lack of exposure to sunlight during winter.  Sunlight has an effect on some of the chemicals in our brain and on hormones.

Symptoms of SAD include:
  • feeling irritable
  • feelings of despair
  • feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • low self-esteem
  • indecisiveness
  • tearfulness
  • feeling stressed or anxious

If you have these symptoms please visit your doctor who will then ask you questions relating to your symptoms and determine the cause.

There are many different ways to help treat SAD:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - This therapy helps you to change the way you think about a situation and how to cope with them,
  • Antidepressants - These are used in some cases of SAD when symptoms are severe.
  • Light Therapy - You will be given a special lamp which you sit under or in front of.
Your doctor will discuss the best form of treatment(s) with you.

If you or a loved one have any of the symptoms above please do not worry about speaking to your doctor.  You are not alone and they can help you get the support you need.

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