Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Posted on September 3, 2017

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Who would agree when the sun is shinning the days longer nights shorter and those temperatures soar our outlook on life, our days generally are spent in a far happier place. Those troubles will seem a little less when our friend the sun is looking down upon us with his most wondrous of warm smiles.. Noel Gay and Ralph Butler the bearers of a great truth once wrote. The sun has got his hat on Hip-hip-hip-hooray! the sun has got his hat on, he’s coming out today. Now we’ll all be happy hip-hip-hip-hooray, the sun has got his hat on and he’s coming out today

Yet just around the corner what awaits us?. Yes the wind, rain and cold those dark dreary days and nights as summer turns to autumn, autumn into winter. It’s enough to dampen anyone’s spirits and make those troubles appear far greater than they were before. If you feel anxious, depressed like your life resembles that of the weather itself and you cannot rid yourself of a pervading sense of gloominess, then maybe you are one of those unfortunate enough to have a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is thought to affect one in 15 people here in the UK between the months of September and April, according to NHS statistics.

We are all affected by this to some extent as weather patterns take a change for the worse and the days become shorter, the nights longer. Being a Brit myself I’ve become somewhat accustomed to the changing of the seasons and even welcome it being a sufferer of Agoraphobia. For me personally it means I can go out early evening and enjoy myself that little more, as bizarre and antisocial as it may seem. Yet for others it’s become a very very serious mental health problem, one that could have implications on both a persons ability to function in the most basic of every day tasks and a persons livelihood.

Symptoms & Sad Lights

As is often the case with any illness that involves a depressive state, anyone who suffers will likely have a range of the following symptoms.

  • moodiness
  • a lack of interest in everyday activities
  • irritability
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • lethargy, feeling sleepy during the day
  • sleeping for longer periods and lack of motivation to get up in the morning
  • food cravings and the gaining of weight

The root causes of SAD could be due to the following according to the NHS website

  • the production of melatonin a hormone that makes you feel sleepy which the body may produce in higher than normal levels
  • production of serotonin a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep patterns. A lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is linked to feelings of depression
  • the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) your body uses sunlight to time various important functions, such as when you wake up

As with any form of depression, there is no surefire way of eradicating it’s symptoms but there are things you can try. Outside of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) attempting to get as much sunlight exposure as you can, keeping your friends and family close, making sure any hobbies you may have are maintained, there is Light Therapy utilising a SAD lamp.. These contraptions have been known to be effective in 85% of cases according to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association and maybe beneficial for those who generally suffer with depression. Though in a systematic study conducted in 2015 by the Cochrane group, an independent global research network they discovered there was no concrete evidence to suggest their overall effectiveness. Through further research over the last few decades our understanding of how the eye processes light has determined that a new blue-light sensitive receptor in the eye is important for regulating our biological clock. So ascertaining which light will be most effective blue or white is open to debate. For further information on SAD and help for the condition if you feel you or anyone else may be a sufferer, please see the links below. If you have a SAD light let us know your own thoughts on their effectiveness


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