What is Seasonal Depression? | Understanding the Effects and Managing the Symptoms

Combating seasonal depression: Cosy home set-up with hot tea and blankets

What is Seasonal Depression? | Understanding the Effects and Managing the Symptoms

What is seasonal depression?


Do you find yourself withdrawing from your usual activities during the autumn/winter months, or suffering from a low mood?


You may be experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as “SAD”.


This month, we’re exploring the effects of seasonal depression and how you can manage your symptoms:


What is Seasonal Depression?


Seasonal Affective Disorder is characterised by a low mood that follows a seasonal pattern. As autumn takes hold and winter draws in, you may find yourself experiencing low mood and a temptation to withdraw from your usual hobbies, social activities and routines.


The exact cause of seasonal depression is unknown, but it’s thought to be brought on by a combination of several season-related factors. These include lack of sunlight, shorter days and darker nights, and poor weather conditions.


Some people may also have a genetic predisposition to seasonal depression.


Woman walking through woods in autumn


Symptoms of Seasonal Depression


Sunlight helps with your body’s regulation of melatonin, the sleep hormone. A lack of sunlight can interfere with your body’s circadian rhythm and cause you to produce too much of it; this can lead to tiredness, and a desire to sleep longer.


Lack of sunlight and irregular sleeping patterns can then lead to a reduction in serotonin levels – your body’s “happy” hormone. This can cause low mood and increased stress.


It’s quite normal to feel a little less motivated to do your usual activities when the days get darker and colder. However, it’s important to try and avoid resisting the temptation to stay inside too often; getting out and about can help to boost your mental health at a typically gloomy time of year.


Symptoms to watch out for include persistent low mood, weight gain, lack of motivation, lethargy and irritability. If you feel that you are experiencing any of these, it’s always a good idea to pay your GP a visit.


Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder


Try taking vitamin supplements to help keep your body functioning well. Taking a vitamin D supplement, in particular, may help boost the lack of endorphins in your body.


You could also try to improve your sleep pattern by making your bedroom comfortable. You can do this by keeping your room decluttered, tidy and fresh, and ensuring it’s not too hot or too cold. You can also keep your decor neutral to prevent overstimulation.


Combating seasonal depression: Woman sat with blanket, book and hot drink

Try to avoid caffeine before bed, and switch off devices at least an hour before you go to sleep. Instead, why not try drinking herbal tea and reading a book to help you unwind?


Try to continue your usual activities. You may not feel like going out, but your body will respond well if you continue socialising and exercising. Both activities help your body release endorphins that make you feel good, which will help to combat seasonal depression.


You should also try to ensure that you maintain a healthy diet, as too many sugary or processed foods can leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated.


Lastly, why not try a Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp? Simulating natural daylight, these lamps can help to alleviate the symptoms of seasonal depression when the days get darker.


If you’ve found this article helpful, why not try reading our previous blog on how to check in with your mental health?


Alternatively, if you’d like to know more about our care services, please contact a member of our team.