Seasonal depression: are you feeling SAD?

Here’s how to avoid seasonal depression

Seasonal depression affects many of us and is particularly prevalent at this time of year. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is often linked to a lack of sunlight, which is why the winter months tend to be when it is at its worst. If you’re struggling with seasonal depression at this time of year – or you’re keen to avoid it – what can you do about it?

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

It’s what is known as seasonal depression because the winter months – and the lack of sunlight exposure that can entail – can lead to a drop in the production of melatonin and serotonin. This can impact everything, from how you feel to how much you want to eat and whether you sleep well. Symptoms of this kind of seasonal depression range from gaining weight to feeling sad and low, sleeping problems and losing interest in the activities you previously enjoyed. If you’re struggling with SAD, then it not only impacts how you feel but can also weigh heavy on your relationships, how you can show up at work as well as the way you interact with friends, loved ones and children.

How to avoid seasonal depression

For some of us it may not simply be a case of trying to avoid SAD but learning ways and strategies to cope with it if it arises. Unless you choose to move to a country with a different climate, SAD could likely continue to impact your winter experience every year. However, there are also steps you can take to manage it better and, often, to lessen its impact. For example:

  • Open up your life to more natural light – That could mean finding opportunities to let more natural light into your home so that you’re not constantly sitting in the dark or under artificial light. When the weather is sunny, get outside and enjoy as much sunlight as possible.
  • Minimise the comfort of eating – Seasonal depression can trigger a desire for comfort food like heavy carbohydrates and sugar. This can be enjoyed in moderation, but it won’t help to boost your mood in the long term. A diet rich in protein and healthy fruit and vegetables is much more likely to do this.
  • Make plans and be active – It’s really important to make space for any feelings that come up with seasonal depression and not deny those hard feelings exist. It’s also equally important not to wallow in them but to get outside, stay busy and plan things that you enjoy doing so you can remind yourself that life is good.
  • Get some therapy – Whatever the response you’re having to the darkness of the winter months could be better supported by therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This not only gives you a chance to understand better why you react as you do but to try new ways of challenging and questioning negative thought patterns.

Seasonal depression is something that many of us suffer from every year – but there are steps you can take to alleviate it.