It seems that many of us notice a change in our moods with the changing of the seasons. Many of us find the winter, well a little depressing. It’s dark, the days are short and it can get very cold. We find that spring brings with it new hope…In this post we wanted to have a look at the very real effect of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.
What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is the scientific name for what we call winter depression, or the winter blues. However, SAD is not just related to winter, it can be associated with any season, with many people getting depressed in the summer (suffering with the summer blues). SAD is essentially a mood disorder, in which people experience depressive symptoms based on a particular season.
Some of the symptoms
There are a number of symptoms associated with SAD, these can include difficulty waking up in the morning, morning sickness, tendency to oversleep and or to overeat. When overeating, this is typically craving carbohydrates which leads to weight gain. Other symptoms include a lack of energy, difficulty in concentrating on or completing tasks and can even include a withdrawal from friends, family and social activities. Other symptoms can be found for “the summer blues”, such as insomnia, anxiety, irritability, decreased appetite and ultimately weight loss. No matter if you suffer SAD in the winter or the summer, these symptoms ultimately may lead to depression.
Help and treatment
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help combat SAD.
CBT aims to help individuals identify the expectations and interpretations that can lead them towards depression and anxiety; adjust to reality and break through their avoidances and inhibitions. Implementation of CBT can help people change their cognitive processes, which leads to changes in their feelings and behaviours.
Some of the CBT skills a therapist can deliver to an individual who suffers with SAD can include:
- Development of a repertoire of wintertime leisure interests
- Using diaries to record automatic negative thoughts
- Improvement in time management
- Solving problems that could potentially initiate negative thinking
- Setting goals and plans for maintaining gains and preventing relapse
Why CBT to treat SAD
CBT is a great way to combat SAD because the effects have been shown to be long lasting for the individual. This longer lasting effect is brought about because the individual is given the skills and tools to delay or prevent relapse of depressive symptoms…For more information on treatment of SAD please see https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/treatment/