The Clocks Go Back, Your Mood Falls Back
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: David Seddon MA, BA, Accred - helping couples and individuals to a better life
24th October, 2012
Some studies have shown that up to a quarter of people in the UK are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), with about 25% of that group suffering it quite badly. The problem is likely to hit hardest in the Autumn and Winter months, especially after the clocks go back. Since 2012 has been a very rainy and overcast year then the problem will probably be worse this year than it normally is.
It is interesting to note that as society has moved away from jobs that are outside in the sunlight, the incidence of SAD has risen. The problem is caused by a lack of serotonin due to there being less light entering the eye. What’s more although people who suffer it can feel things getting marginally worse, it can often just hit them all of a sudden. It can feel a bit like Summer one day and Winter the next. People who suffer severe SAD can feel that it badly hampers their ability to cope on a day to day basis. It can cause a variety of problems such as depression, eating and sleep problems, low libido, anxiety, poor concentration, a weakened immune system, mood swings, social difficulty, tiredness and a variety of behavioural and physical problems. If you tend to suffer from mood swings or lowness anyway, then SAD is only going to make things worse.
The good news is that there are ways that you can help to overcome SAD, otherwise known as “The Winter Blues.”
- Contact with Loved Ones and Pets
Most of us have people in our lives that make us feel happy, bring us some joy, relax us or make us laugh. These are people we should try to spend more time with when we are suffering from SAD. Pets are also great for making us feel better at any time but particularly when we feel bluesy.
Listening to cheerful music can really raise our mood and bring us out of ourselves. Jangly pop songs that you can sing along to in the car or that you associate with happy moments in your life can all have a marvellous mood enhancing affect. Classical music can be very de-stressing for some people – even if they would not normally choose it as listening material.
- Going to a Counsellor
Simply talking about your issues with an experienced counsellor can feel like a tremendous release and of course they will be able to help you look at and find options for dealing with it. A counsellor will have many strategies for helping you come out of it. In addition, it is likely that there are other issues behind the SAD that are causing some of the emotional lowness. A counsellor will help you to explore that and support you in working through it.
- Getting Better Sleep
It is amazing just how much poor sleep can affect us. There are many ways that you can improve your sleep and a counsellor will help you with this. If you do manage to sleep better you will find that the symptoms of SAD are very much lessened.
- Light Therapy
Since a lack of light is the basic cause of the problem, some experts have suggested that additional light is also the cure. It is possible to buy special light boxes which can boost serotonin levels - or it may be a good idea to simply spend more time outside – although if it’s raining this may not seem very pleasant! Yet even poor outdoor light is better than no outdoor light.
- Change Your Diet
It is easy for our diet to get out of balance, particularly in the Winter or the festive season, when we might over-indulge a bit more for comfort or celebration. Sugary, fatty or very spicy foods can be very bad whilst wholemeal foods and foods containing lots of vitamins and minerals can be very good. Certain herbal teas are excellent for mood and health. Try chamomile, spearmint or peppermint.
- Take More Exercise and Keep Up Your Sex Life
Exercise is often a good way of boosting our mood – but only in the short term. Exercise can release endorphins and get your heart pumping. Dancing is particularly good for lifting the mood as it can feel so joyous, and swimming helps us to feel spiritually and physically supported, whereas a walk in nature can connect us to something outside of ourselves. It is well known that regular sex can help us to feel better. SAD can lower your libido and make you feel very unsexual, but you may be surprised that going ahead and having it anyway will boost your endorphins and also help you feel connected to someone, more alive and loved.
- Use Alternative Therapies
Acupuncture, massage and EFT (tapping) can be good for helping with a brighter mood. Burning aromatherapy oils for instance Bergamot and Neroli can create an uplifting atmosphere.
If you are suffering from SAD this Autumn and Winter, don’t wait until it gets really bad. Consider one of the options above to help you through it.
Related articles from our experts
- Is it grief? Is it depression?
SUSAN STUBBINGS Counsellor, Supervisor, Group facilitator Registered MBACP17th January, 2017
- Treating depression with talking therapy
David Peak16th January, 2017
- Depression - how do you recognise it? How is it caused and how to get help?
David Peak16th January, 2017
- The change of seasons – how it can affect those with disability or illness
Helen Rutherford BA hons MBACP3rd November, 2016
- Seasonal mindfulness – taking time out to reflect on this time of year
Juliet McDonnell, MA, UKCP Registered6th September, 2016
- Beating the September blues
Jared Green (MA, UKCP)31st August, 2016
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.