Wellness Wednesday – What is SAD?
Marshall Centre have set up a series called Wellness Wednesday and this week’s mental health topic is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
The winter season can have a negative impact on our mood, appetite and sleeping patterns. This is often referred to as SAD or winter depression. For many, this is a reoccurring condition, with the most difficult months reported to be January and February.
For those who are affected by SAD, the pandemic has caused extra pressure and further stress; limited social interaction, prolonged periods of isolation, career instability, home-schooling, lack of routine and increased financial strain have worsened the symptoms of SAD.
- A persistent low mood
- A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- Feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
- Sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
- Craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
- For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities.
- Production of melatonin – melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy; in people with SAD, the body may produce it in higher than normal levels
- Production of serotonin – serotonin is a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep; a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is linked to feelings of depression
- Body's internal clock (circadian rhythm) – your body uses sunlight to time various important functions, such as when you wake up, so lower light levels during the winter may disrupt your body clock and lead to symptoms of SAD
It’s important as we go through this tough time, we take extra care of our mental health to manage SAD.
Here are a few suggestions to combat the symptoms of SAD:
Stay in touch
SAD can make you feel lonely and isolated, so keep in contact with your loved ones. If you or a loved one live alone then make sure you have regular contact through video calls so you can see each other.
Get into a routine
Get the serotonin pumping in your body by sticking to a healthy daily routine. Waking up at a reasonable time, get washed and dressed, eat a healthy diet and do some exercise.
Get some light
Lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, so get outside while the sun is out and (sometimes) shining. If you don’t get the chance to get outside you can buy a SAD light lamp, which simulates sunlight to boost your mood.
Remember, you are not alone
Many of us are experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety due to the lack of social interaction and stress from the pandemic. It’s vital that we take care of our mental health and look after each other.