With Autumn in full swing, winter is just around the corner…bringing with it the winter blues!
Everyone seems to notice the change in mood when winter creeps back in. Some people love the excuse to curl up with a hot drink and a good film, for others winter can be a very difficult time. Around 10-20% of people have mild Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and it is 4 times more common in women.
No one really knows the cause of SAD, but one of the most recognised and accepted theories is that the shorter days and decreased sunlight causes they hypothalamus to stop working. This part of the brain controls the production of melatonin (sleep hormone), serotonin (mood, appetite and sleep hormone) and your sleep pattern.
The symptoms of SAD are very similar to depression:
- Persistent low mood
- Low self-esteem
- Becoming less sociable
- Feeling stressed or anxious
- Loss of interest in everyday activities
But they can also include:
- Sleeping for longer than usual
- Finding it difficult to get up in the morning
- Struggling to concentrate
- Increased appetite
Many specialists say SAD should be treated the same way that depression is. This can include Medication, such as antidepressants, or therapy.
However, that isn’t the only way. Self-care is an important part of treatment for SAD and depression. Now, I don’t just mean remembering to brush your teeth or making sure you have a shower. Self-care is a lot more than that, it involves making choices that are beneficial for your mind and your body. This can include not eating too much junk food, remembering to exercise, getting some natural daylight and keeping your brain active.
One of the best tips I was given by someone that suffered with SAD was, complete a puzzle every day. Whether that’s a sudoku or a cross word, word search or a jigsaw, 1 puzzle a day keeps your mind active and completing it gives you a sense of accomplishment which can be a real boost to your mood. Click on the links to open up and print one of 3 puzzles, the solutions can be found here.
If you are worried about yourself or someone you think may have SAD or any form of Depression contact your GP or talk to a charity like Mind