by Maria Walsh, Counsellor
Has the bleak winter weather left you feeling a little blue?
It’s not uncommon for people in the North to experience a dip in mood after the holidays as we adapt to the lack of light on these cold and dark days. For some of us, these low moods can take the form of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a pattern of depressive or anxious episodes that most commonly occur during the autumn and winter months. In fact, SAD may affect up to 10 per cent of people living in northern latitudes.
SAD symptoms can have a significant impact on the individual, family members, and day-to-day activities. Light Therapy, medication, as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectic Behavioural Therapy are all useful treatments for people whose symptoms are making daily life too challenging.
Identifying the symptoms of SAD is an important first step in diagnosing the issue. If you know what you are experiencing, you can take steps to get help sooner. If you think you might have SAD and are struggling to cope, you should connect with your primary care provider.
- A persistent low mood, which often presents as negative thoughts about your life in general.
- Lack of motivation
- Decreased ability to focus and concentrate
- Increased irritability
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
- Decreased ability to tolerate distress
- Feeling sad or down
- Difficulties with sleeping
- Isolation or becoming less sociable
- Feeling stressed or anxious
- Feeling shaky and uneasy
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT:
There are a number of self-care activities we can engage in, according to the National Health Service, that can have a positive impact on our mood:
- Get moving - staying active can be very helpful
- Get outside – Sunshine = vitamin D!
- Light Therapy – 30 minutes in front of a full spectrum light box
- Eat well, including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Stay connected with friends and family
- Talk it through – cognitive therapy treatment
- Choosing to practice positive thinking and mindfulness relaxation techniques
Take the Mental Health Meter
Understanding the characteristics that make up good mental health will help you determine how mentally fit you are.