It’s common to struggle with energy levels, mood and motivation during the winter months, but for 20% of the population, there's more at play than simply winter blues. Spotting the signs of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) isn't always easy, so we spoke to SADA, The Seasonal Affective Disorder Association to find out more.
What is SAD?
SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder and is a depressive illness caused by shorter daylight hours and lack of sunlight.
Who can get it?
Around 20% of the population are affected by SAD in some way and for 2% it is a disabling illness.
Spot the signs:
You can diagnose SAD after three or more consecutive winters of symptoms which are onset after a period of sunless skies.
Symptoms include: sleep problems, over-eating, lethargy, loss of libido, mood changes, depression, anxiety and social problems.
If you suffer from SAD, it's also common for your immune system to weaken during this time, making you more vulnerable and susceptible to illness.
What’s the difference between winter blues and SAD?
Symptoms of SAD disappear in the spring and are often followed by a short period of mania-like symptoms and hyperactivity, especially if the intensity of sunlight suddenly increases.
How do I treat it?
Light therapy is found to be effective in 85% of cases of SAD. This involves shining a bright light in your direction for periods of 30 minutes once or twice during the day. An average bulb is about 200-300 lux but you need at least a 2,500 lux strength bulb for it to be effective. To put it into context, a summer’s day can reach 100,000 lux.
Check out SADA to get hold of a recommended box.
If symptoms persist, it is important you visit a medical professional to discuss further treatment such as therapy and antidepressant prescriptions.