Seasonal Affective Disorder: No need to feel sad

For some, the chance to wrap up in front of the fire in the winter and enjoy the happy warmth with friends and family is something to look forward to. For some of us though, the pain of winter is almost unbearable. If so, it may be that, like celebrities Barbara Hambly and Natalie Imbruglia, you too are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

Am I really feeling SAD?

According to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA), an estimated 7% of us will be affected by SAD during winter, especially during December and February. Although not age specific, those between the ages of 18 and 30 are most commonly affected. But how do you know you if you are included in that number?

If you have experienced some of the following symptoms for two or more winters, it is possible that you are indeed a sufferer:

  •  Lacking in energy
  • Generally feeling low, quite sad and at times despairing
  • Anxiety
  • A desire to avoid socialising and people
  • Problems with sleep

What help is available?

If you feel that one or more of the above symptoms best describes you, don’t panic. The following have shown to be effective in combating such symptoms:

  • Eat healthily – vitamin D is a must
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get out in that sunshine
  • Tell them how you feel – talk to family & friends

If you feel that something stronger is in order, what treatments are recommended?

  • Light Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

While both of these treatments have been shown to be effective, how can you make an informed choice as to which one is right for you?

Well, according to the NHS (www.nhs.uk), “The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that SAD should be treated in the same way as other types of depression. This includes using talking treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)….”

CBT – the NICE treatment

Although Light Therapy has been shown to be highly effective in treating symptoms of SAD, the benefits may only be short-term. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) however, has been shown to have a more long-term benefit, preventing future relapses. How does it work? CBT focuses on you – your thinking and reactions to events, in this case, to the winter and all it brings. If you can challenge and change your thinking, it will ultimately change your behaviour, and situations previously feared and dreaded will no longer pose a threat. Sound good?

If you would like a treatment tailored to your individual needs, with long-term benefits, and that enables you to do something about the way you feel, why not give CBT a go?

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