Seasonal affective disorder

sad in winter time, raining outside.jpeg

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is when a person suffers from depression during a particular season of the year. People suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder typically experience depression in the winter, although it can happen in different seasons for different people. In order to understand how to deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder, you should first understand what causes it.


The reduced sunlight is a major cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder in winter. As we are exposed to less sunlight, our bodies produce less of certain chemicals like Serotonin and Melatonin, which both affect mood.

As winter is typically darker, wetter, and colder than summer, the weather directly affects our moods. But it also has an indirect effect, in that our social lives are far less active in the winter than they are in the summer. This is especially true for people who live in areas that are isolated or hard to get to.

Certain demographics are more susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder than others. Young people are more likely to be affected than older people, possibly because their social lives take more of a hit. Women are more likely to be affected, but men who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder tend to have more extreme cases. This most likely indicates that there are many men who suffer from varying levels of Seasonal Affective Disorder, but don’t seek help.


People who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder can display a variety of symptoms, especially depending on which type it is they suffer from. The most common form of Seasonal Affective Disorder is Autumn & Winter SAD, or Winter-onset SAD. Symptoms for this include:

  • Sluggishness
  • Irritability
  • Mood Swings
  • Fatigue
  • Increased Appetite
  • Self-isolation
  • Gaining Weight
  • Sleeping More

Spring & Summer SAD, or Summer-onset SAD is less common, and also has completely different symptoms, including:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Losing Weight

What to Do

If you think you are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, you should get in touch with a medical professional and tell them exactly what you have been going through. There are also actions you can take that may help alleviate some of the symptoms.

Light, especially natural light, can have a huge effect on your overall mood. You should spend some time each day outside in the natural light as well as open your curtains to let as much of it in as possible. Avoid sitting in dark or dimly-lit rooms, and use lamps & mirrors to brighten up anywhere that is particularly dark. You can even buy lightbulbs designed to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

You should also make an extra effort to stay socially active. Making the journey to and from a friend’s place may not seem as appealing as sitting in on a Saturday night, but it would be better for you and others to make the extra effort once in a while. You may find that a routine change, such as regularly meeting a friend for lunch, may be a more suitable option for you.

With the above in mind, you might find that exercising could be helpful. Not only does regular exercise release chemicals such as endorphins, it also instils a sense of accomplishment. Furthermore, it is good to get into a routine, and exercise is a way to get out of the house, as well as a potential social activity.

David Clarke