Seasonal Affective Disorder – As the days get shorter and the temperature gets colder…

Seasonal Affective Disorder - Ralph Rogers

I love the change of seasons and for me, one of the nicest changes is from summer to fall. School days might be long gone, but I can still remember fall representing a new school year, great expectations, and the promise of new challenges. Fall has the power to stimulate my senses with the crip air, the wonderful earthy smells, and of course the unmistakable colour palette; luscious reds and browns of the leaves and burning, golden sunsets heralding the arrival of an Indian summer.

But the turn to fall can also trigger unpleasant, debilitating emotional responses. The shorter, colder days can give you ‘the blues’ and spark feelings of stress and anxiety. This is called Seasonal Affective Disorder [SAD] a form of depression that people experience at a particular time of year or during a particular season. It is a recognised mental health disorder and is most common in countries like the UK where there are large changes in the weather and daylight hours in the different seasons. It is thought that with SAD, the lack of light is thought to affect the part of the brain that rules sleep and energy levels.

If you suffer from SAD many psychologists feel you should identify healthy habits such as going to the gym and exercising, going for walks outside and spending time in the sun or daylight. If you suffer badly and you find it difficult to cope it is advisable that you see your GP to rule out any other illness. Your GP may suggest such treatments as Light Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or they may even prescribe antidepressants.

Change is a good thing but can be difficult for many. The most important thing is that you don’t suffer in silence – seek help to get the treatment you need to make the most out of the beautiful season.