Just about everyone has a preference over which season they most enjoy, with many beach lovers counting down the days until winter passes. But for some, the change in seasons is an aspect of life that can weigh heavily on their mental health. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a condition where its sufferers can fall into a heavy state of depression as soon as the thermometer drops. While it can be easy to joke about having the winter blues, seasonal affective disorder has made its way into medical manuals across the globe as a legitimate mental health condition. Seasonal affective disorder was first described in 1984.
Around 6% of Americans, especially in Northern Regions suffer from SAD. However, moving to UK, the stats are a lot higher with as many as 1 in 3 people experiencing SAD and 57% of residents stating that their overall mood is a lot worse in winter months.
Notably, around 10 to 20% of recurrent depression cases follow a seasonal pattern, with the predominant pattern being fall and winter depression. Seasonal affective disorder comes with a set of very predictable symptoms, that often return each year when fall or winter sets in.
These symptoms can affect your day to day life as it makes it hard to go about your daily tasks without struggle. As soon as spring or summer comes around, the depressive symptoms usually dissipate. The predictable symptoms that might arise in the colder months include:
- High consumption of comfort foods, particularly those high in carbohydrates, fats and sugars and subsequent weight gain
- Low energy, lethargy and fatigue
- Loss of libido
- Lack of motivation or inspiration
- Excessive time spent indoors or in bed/excessive time sleeping
- Lack of self-care
- Isolation from social activities
- Feelings of worthlessness and general despair
- Suicidal thoughts
- Persistent crying for no explained reason
- Loss of interest in activities that you are usually very driven to participate in
- Reduced immune system and constantly getting sick
- Reliance on stimulants such as caffeine, drugs or alcohol
- Feeling of being alone even though you might have a great network of friends and family
- Feeling frequently angry or irritable with no plausible link