This information first appeared on: What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? – Mind
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that you experience during particular seasons or times of year. Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time, and affects your everyday life.
If you have SAD, you’ll experience depression during some seasons in particular, or because of certain types of weather or temperature. You can experience it in winter or summer.
“It’s like having your own portable black cloud.”
It’s common to be affected by changing seasons and weather, or to have times of year when you feel more or less comfortable. For example, you might find that your mood or energy levels drop when it gets colder or warmer, or notice changes in your sleeping or eating patterns.
But if your feelings are interfering with your everyday life, it could be a sign that you have depression. And if they keep coming back at the same time of year, doctors might call this seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or ‘seasonal depression’.
“In the weeks before the clocks go back, I start to feel sluggish and down. It’s harder to keep to my morning routine of going out for a walk before breakfast because it’s wet, cold and dark.”
What are the symptoms of SAD?
If you have SAD, you might experience some of the signs and symptoms below. But it’s different for different people, and can vary season to season, so you might also have other kinds of feelings which aren’t listed here:
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Not wanting to see people
- Feeling sad, low, tearful, guilty or hopeless
- Feeling anxious, angry and agitated
- Being more prone to physical health problems, such as colds, infections or other illnesses
- Sleeping too much, or difficulty waking up (common with SAD in winter)
- Sleeping too little, or waking up a lot (common with SAD in summer)
- Changes in your appetite, for example feeling hungrier or not wanting to eat
- Losing interest in sex or physical contact
- Suicidal feelings
- Other symptoms of depression
If you also have other mental health problems, you might find that things get worse at times when you’re affected by SAD.
“I just can’t stay awake and the thought of having to go out, stay awake, make conversation. I just can’t do it.”
How can I help myself?
Living with SAD can be difficult, but there are lots of things you can do to help yourself cope. This page has some suggestions for you to consider.
Different things work for different people at different times, so if something doesn’t feel possible just now try not to put pressure on yourself. You can always try something else or come back to it another time. For example:
- Talk to someone
- Keep a diary
- Plan for difficult times
- Try peer support
- Learn ways to relax
- Look after your physical health
If SAD affects you during winter, there are particular things you could try that might help. You could:
Make the most of natural light. It might help to spend time in natural light, for example going for walks, spending time in parks or gardens, or simply sitting near a window. This seems to be helpful if you experience SAD in winter.
Plan ahead for winter. For example, try to make meals in advance and freeze them if you know you are likely to lack the energy to do this during the most difficult period.
Find out more about Seasonal Affective Disorder, including the; causes, treatement, and useful contacts, by visiting: What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? – Mind