Seasonal Affective Disorder: Effective ways to beat the winter blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Effective ways to beat the winter blues

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The Winter Blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression with episodes occurring at the same time each year, usually during the winter.

SAD can be difficult to diagnose because it shares so many symptoms with other forms of depression. If you’ve been experiencing a combination of the following SAD-related symptoms, it might be time to see your GP:

  • Acute fatigue and lethargy
  • Sleep disorders (either insomnia or hypersomnia)
  • Increased appetite (especially cravings for sugar and carbohydrates)
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating
  • Social withdrawal and introversion

Things you can try yourself

There are a number of simple things you can try that may help improve your symptoms, including:

  • try to get as much natural sunlight as possible – even a brief lunchtime walk can be beneficial
  • make your work and home environments as light and airy as possible
  • sit near windows when you’re indoors
  • take plenty of regular exercise, particularly outdoors and in daylight
  • eat a healthy balanced diet
  • if possible, avoid stressful situations and take steps to manage stress

It can also be helpful to talk to your family and friends about SAD, so they understand how your mood changes during the winter. This can help them to support you more effectively.


How counselling can help with SAD

Here, the counsellor helps clients to examine thoughts, feelings and behaviours which influence our mood, and looks at systematic strategies for making changes in these areas. The counsellor helps clients to overcome seasonal mental health challenges by:

  • Focusing on incorporating enjoyable activities into their winter routine
  • Shifting perspectives about negative winter associations
  • Developing distress tolerance skills to combat the winter blues