Overview of Seasonal Affective Disorder
There are many things to look forward to over the Winter months: Christmas, New Year’s, and snowball fights (although perhaps not if you’re a Londoner). However, for those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), these months are challenging and in some cases debilitating. SAD is a subgroup of mood disorders in which an individual suffers symptoms similar to depression during the Winter, despite seeming healthy most of the year round. According to the Royal Society of Psychiatrists, it affects 3% of people nationally each year and that is roughly 2 million people in the UK.
Colloquially known as “Winter depression”, SAD has numerous overlapping symptoms. These include but are not limited to persistent low mood, lack of energy during the day, difficulty concentrating, increased weight, and decreased sex drive. There is still ongoing research into the causes of SAD, however the prominent culprit is the decrease in light levels over the Winter months. This results in a disruption of the “body clock” which relies on sunlight and thus hormones important in regulating mood, energy and appetite are not released when they should. Thus, these symptoms can, in some cases, severely impact someone’s quality of life during this time of year.
There are means of treating SAD, both via medical intervention and self-care. One example of self-care for SAD includes maximising the amount of light you can get; this is important due to the suspected cause of SAD being a decrease in light. Other self-care methods can include some exercise, accessing green spaces, and keeping good hygiene. Ensuring your basic needs are met should be a priority and go a long way to improving your mood during these colder months. However, if your SAD is causing severe day-to-day difficulties, it is recommended you contact your GP.
If you live in Barking & Dagenham, there are many support systems in place you can contact. NELFT provides an extensive range of integrated community and mental health services for people living in the North East London boroughs. Adults with significant mental health issues who are 18 years of age or older can receive specialised mental health treatment from the new Mental Health & Wellness Teams. Each team offers a multidisciplinary service and is made up of community mental health nurses, occupational therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and support personnel. You can find NELFT contact details here: https://www.nelft.nhs.uk/contact-us
In addition to NELFT, linked below are more resources related to SAD, whether you’re interested in the topic or need further advice:
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