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SAD: The seasons for those suffering from SAD are upon us. Know the signs!

SAD: The seasons for those suffering from SAD are upon us. Know the signs!

Supporting someone with SAD
We are well into the time of darker, shorter days.
Now’s time when those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are likely to notice the recurrence of their depressive symptoms. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year.

During summertime those who are affected by SAD are said to be free from symptoms such as fatigue, low mood, depression and tearfulness. At this time of year, the cravings for carb laden comfort foods and for sleep are appearing again.
More about SAD?
  • SAD is a mood disorder that affects an individual the same time each year, usually autumn and winter and ends in early spring when the weather becomes warmer. People with SAD feel depressed during the shorter days of winter, and more cheerful and energetic during the brightness of spring and summer.
  • Mild forms of SAD are believed to affect as many as 20% of people (study in the USA
  • The two most common symptoms of SAD are feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and losing interest in activities—such as socialising—that you’d normally find pleasurable. If you experience these symptoms every day for longer than a few days but only during autumn and winter, and if these symptoms disappear during the rest of the year, it may be a sign of SAD.
  • Did you know that between 60% and 90% of people with SAD are women? If you are a woman aged between 15 and 55, you are more likely to develop SAD.
  • Even though this time of the year is colder, SAD is believed to relate more to daylight, not the temperature. Some experts say that a lack of sunlight increases the body’s production of a hormone called melatonin which is secreted by part of the brain known as the pineal gland. It is a hormone whose main function is to induce sleep and to transmit the sleep message to various physiological systems in the body.
  • SAD can be treated. If your symptoms are mild, meaning, if they do not interfere in and completely ruin your daily life, light therapy may help you beat SAD. Remember to consult your doctor before any treatment decisions are made.
  • People with SAD tend to feel the need to sleep more during the winter, sometimes a lot more. In one study, published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research in 1994, patients at a SAD clinic averaged about 7.5 hours of sleep in the summer, 8.5 hours in the spring and autumn, and nearly 10 hours in the winter.
  • SAD can increase appetite in some people with a high percentage of people with the disorder reporting to being hungrier during the colder, darker months. The disorder can produce a strong craving for complex carbohydrates such as bread and pasta.
  • The condition has been shown to affect a range of mental processes, including concentration, speaking ability, and memory.
If you know someone who suffers from SAD, you can try to help them by-
  • Telling them to prepare for it rather than waiting for the unpleasant symptoms to appear.
  • Trying to spend more time with the person, even though they may not seem to want any company.
  • Remind them often that summer will soon return and that their sad feelings are only temporary, and they will feel better soon.
  • Go outside and do something together. Take a walk, or exercise. Get them to spend some time outside in the natural sunlight. Exercise is helpful since it boosts melatonin.
  • If they can afford it encourage them to take a winter sun holiday.
  • If you think their symptoms are more than those related to SAD please encourage them to speak to their doctor.