SAD: Coping with the Winter Blues

SAD: Coping with the Winter Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects approximately 7% of the population, causing symptoms such as low mood, lack of energy, sleep disturbances, and loss of interest in activities. The exact cause of SAD is not fully understood, but it is believed to be partly genetic and linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter daylight hours of autumn and winter. The lack of sunlight can disrupt the brain’s functioning, affecting the production of melatonin and serotonin, hormones that regulate sleep and mood.

Self-help measures can go a long way in managing SAD symptoms. Taking walks during the daytime to increase sunlight exposure, engaging in regular physical activity, establishing healthy sleep routines, and seeking support from friends and family are all beneficial. Getting as much natural sunlight as possible, whether by taking a lunchtime walk or sitting near windows while indoors, can help reduce melatonin levels and boost serotonin.

Light therapy, using a special lamp called a light box to simulate sunlight exposure, is another treatment option for SAD. Although the effectiveness of light therapy is not clear, many people with SAD find it helpful. Dawn simulating alarm clocks are also available to mimic a natural sunrise and can be tried as well.

If symptoms are severe, it is important to consult a doctor. A mental health assessment can help determine the appropriate treatment, which could include talking therapy and/or antidepressants. It is crucial to reach out to others for support and not dismiss the nudges from friends and family who are trying to help. In addition to seeking professional help, online resources and helplines like Samaritans are available for confidential conversations.

Remember that you are not alone in dealing with SAD, and there are steps you can take to cope with the winter blues.

– Health Service Executive (HSE)
– Dr Ali Zawwar from Lloyds Online Doctor Ireland
– Dr Paul Van Der Westhuizen, specialist digital clinician at Medichecks

All Rights Reserved 2021.
| .