What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Symptoms, Causes and Tips for Prevention
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that typically occurs in the winter months, and the “winter blues” are a milder form of SAD. Additionally, SAD is a recognised mental health disorder which affects 8% of people in the UK every year. Also, the “winter blues affects 21% of the UK’s population.
Depending on the weather, symptoms can start as early as August. But, usually, symptoms are worse November to February and dissipate around April. Seasonal affective disorder affects us both physically and mentally, and symptoms can be mild to severe. Symptoms may include fatigue, irritability, and notable lack of concentration, depression and anxiety. As a result, for some people, SAD can have a significant detrimental impact on their lives.
Furthermore, we spend 90% of our time indoors unexposed to natural light and subjected to artificial light. Also, when we do go outside, we spend a considerable amount of time wearing sunglasses which blocks our exposure to sunlight. So, to reduce the effects of SAD, we need at least thirty minutes per-day outdoor exposure to natural light without sunglasses.
Seasonal Affective Disorder Prevention
Always seek advice from your healthcare practitioner because symptoms of SAD can mask or made worse by an underlying condition. Mental health issues can arise at any point in your life. Seeking help is essential. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a recognised mental health disorder that affects approximately 8% of people in the UK every year.
In conclusion, to prevent the effects of SAD, you need daily exposure to sunlight. Also, regular exercise and manage your stress levels. When at home, keep blinds and curtains open to let in as much light as possible. Plus, open the windows to replenish stale air.
Natural sunlight is by far the best way to reduce the effects of SAD. But sometimes this isn’t possible. Therefore, you can buy SAD lightboxes that simulate the effects of natural sunlight.
- Get outside for at least thirty minutes every day, take a walk to the local park or even the beach.
- Open windows to bring inside natural daylight.
- Draw curtains back as far as possible and keep blinds up during the day.
- Exposure to bright light treatment dramatically reduces symptoms.
- Invest in a SAD lightbox and place it on your desk or table where you spend the most time in the day.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Low mood
- Loss of self-esteem
- Loss of enjoyment
- Sleep Problems
- Increase in weight in winter
- Poor concentration and memory
- Panic attacks
- Loss of Libido
Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Lack of natural light
- Disrupted body clock
- Low serotonin levels
- High melatonin levels
- A change to diet or medication
- Alcohol misuse
- Physical Illness
- Loss or grief