Feeling down? Feeling sad?

So how was your summer? Was it happy and active? But do you now feel you lack energy and are perhaps feeling down? Unfortunately this isn’t unusual for some people as autumn and winter approach. It may be that you are suffering from seasonal affected disorder (SAD). This condition can affect around five per cent of the population and a further 15 plus per cent can suffer what is called 'the blues' (a less severe form).

Causes

The reduction in sunlight during autumn and winter has a negative effect on the emotions and body. The production of a chemical in the body called melatonin is increased and another body chemical, serotonin reduced.

Serotonin affects our moods (makes us feel positive); our appetite and helps transmits messages between nerve cells (reduced transfers results in down feelings).

Melatonin affects our sleep patterns. When it is dark more melatonin is produced making us feel sleepier. Some people are known to have higher levels of melatonin in winter.

Treatments 

If you have noticed that you get depressed as winter arrives perhaps you should talk to your GP. For serious cases medication may be prescribed. Your GP may also suggest that you purchase a 'lightbox'. This is not available on the NHS but exposure to the intensive light produced has been shown to help in most cases.

You may also want to consider working with a counsellor to sort out any underlying issues such as anxiety or previous negative experiences. By taking control over these issues you reduce the depressive effect they may have.

Although it is difficult (because of the lethargy you may be suffering), when suffering from SAD it is also recommended that you increase your amount of physical activity; get out into the open as much as you can; eat more fruit and vegetables and try to socialise more. And if possible a break in a sunny climate during the winter can help.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Owen Redahan. MBACP. B.Sc.(Agr)

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Written by Owen Redahan. MBACP. B.Sc.(Agr)

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