It seems that many people feel down or perhaps even depressed during the darker months of the year.  Is that all there is to it, we just crave some sunlight, or could they be suffering from SAD?

Symptoms of SAD can include:-


*          a persistent low mood

*          a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities

*          irritability

*          feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness

*          feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day

*          sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning

*          craving carbohydrates and gaining weight

Depending on the severity of their symptoms, some people that they are so badly affected that it impacts on their everyday lives.

The cause of SAD isn’t really understood, but the main theory is that lack of sunlight stops they hypothalamus working properly.  In turn, this can affect:-


  • Produce a higher rate of melatonin (the hormone that makes us feel sleepy)
  • A reduction in the production of serotonin (this hormone affects your mood, appetite and sleep)
  • Your internal body clock. Your body  uses sunlight for certain timings and lack of sunlight can cause a disruption to your system


If people believe they have SAD, then a visit to their GP should be their first step in getting help.  That help can vary, depending on the person’s needs and symptoms.  Treatment could involve:-


  • Changes to a persons lifestyle – managing stress levels, getting as much sunlight as possible and exercise
  • Light therapy – a special light box is used to stimulate exposure to sunlight
  • Talking therapies – CBT or counseling
  • Antidepressant medications such as SSRI’s

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