Many of us claim Fall to be our favourite season! Who doesn’t love the beautiful colour-changing leaves, pumpkin-spice lattes, and scenic autumnal walks?
This season is however particularly triggering for several mental issues such as depression and anxiety. SAD is a Seasonal Affective Disorder, a kind of depression mostly, but not only, affecting people during Fall and Winter. So why is it these particular seasons you may ask?
Lack of sunlight: It can lead to lower serotonin levels - a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep.
A significant change of weather- Going from long, warm summer days to darker, colder and rainy winter days may be difficult on the body.
Production of melatonin- Melatonin is the hormone that can make you feel sleepy. In people with SAD melatonin levels are noticeably higher.
Circadian rhythm: It’s your body’s natural clock. The body uses sunlight to time its most important functions such as when we wake up, so lower light levels during winter may disrupt the body clock which can then lead to SAD
Genetics: Some people may be more vulnerable to SAD through their genes. It can sometimes run in the family.
How do I know if I’ve got SAD?
It’s normal that we may feel a bit down or less energetic when it’s been raining for a month straight (what’s up with that y’all?!), however, you have to pay attention to the way you feel so that you don’t ignore some important symptoms which may be a cause for concern.
So what are the most common symptoms of SAD?
Persisting low mood that doesn’t seem to change
Feeling of despair, guilt and worthlessness
A loss of pleasure or interest in usual activities
Lacking in energy and feeling lethargic during the day
Finding it difficult to get up in the morning (or at all)
Craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
Remember that everyone is different and your body may find slightly different ways of telling you that something’s not right!
How to treat SAD?
Get as much sunlight as possible: Try going for walks and spending time outside each day. If it’s raining think about light therapy which simulates light exposure.
Get active: physical activity will help you control your stress levels and stimulate the production of endorphins
Talk to someone: It can be either your friend, a family member or a counsellor. It’s very important not to isolate yourself and your feelings. Talking things through really does help!
Natural remedies: Herbs such as Rosemary, Brahmi, St John’s Worth and Gotu Kola are just a few examples of natural remedies that can ease your symptoms and help you get better.
Supplements: Vitamins of group B, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Magnesium, Folic Acid and Vitamin D, are very important in supporting the nervous system.
Eat chocolate: Yes it’s correct- chocolate can help you fight depression, by increasing serotonin production. Try to choose the ones with higher cocoa content - the higher the better!
Stay away from alcohol: Although it may seem like a good solution in the moment, alcohol is a known depressant which will only make you feel worse in the longer term and you don’t want that!
Meditate: Try meditating for 10-15 minutes each day. If you’ve never done that before you may want to check out one of the guided meditation apps.
Go see your GP: In our opinion, it’s something you should only do as a last resort- if you’ve tried all the other steps and nothing helped. The possibility is high that the doctor will prescribe you an antidepressant medication, and that’s something you really shouldn’t take unless you feel like there’s no other option!
We really hope that it will help you recognise SAD and get it under control fast! All the steps above can be also used as prevention!