Many of us have become aware of the acronym SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a phenomenon associated with the onset of winter, and the reduced hours of available sunlight exposure.
According to SADA, significant symptoms affect an estimated 7% of the UK population each year, with a further 17% suffering discomfort of a milder form.
SAD also shares other terms of reference, such as… Winter Blues or Winter Depression.
Symptoms can be… disturbed sleep patterns, eating disorders, altered moods, reduced performance, feeling lethargic, over-eating and social withdrawal.
There is science to the symptoms too!
A biochemical imbalance in the brain (hypothalamus), resulting from the shortening of daylight hours and the lack of sunlight in winter. This reduces the amount of ‘feel-good’ hormones released into the bloodstream and for many is significantly disabling, and others at least causing discomfort and is mildly debilitating.
Treatment, what helps?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, treatment shown to demonstrate highly effective results, with 85% success reported, is light therapy. Exposure to light up to ten times brighter than ordinary domestic lighting, for up to four hours a day can bring rapid benefits.
How do we do this?
Specialist ‘light-boxes’ can be bought that can provide the necessary light required, in a safe way and that allows the sufferer to continue with activities involved sitting in the office, or at home.
Psychotherapy, and other complementary therapies – these are effective in helping reduce distress.
Exercise – even just getting out there, especially, but without restricting ourselves only to the sunnier days!
Excellent nutrition – some really useful data here to help battle the blues.
Medication – when carefully considered.
For access to the UK charity created specifically to support those with an interest in SAD, please visit and consider joining and/or making a donation to The Seasonal Affective Disorder Association.
Bob Brotchie is a British counsellor providing private services to clients in the privacy, and comfort, of a truly welcoming environment at his company office. He can be found at Anglia Counselling Ltd, located near Newmarket in Suffolk (GB). Bob also provides counselling, online, for international clients all around the world. Therapeutic models are often centred around mindfulness, with clients finding 'peace' via the integration of Psychotherapy and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) principles.
As of 2016, Bob has also made available a free guide entitled 10 Steps to Conquering Your Anxiety for those who subscribe to his blog.