For some people, a change in the seasons means having to either wear more sunscreen when going outside or dressing more warmer.
For others, it can mean experiencing depression. In Northern Europe, according to Patient.info, 2% of the population are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The UK has adults with 6% suffering from recurrent depressive episodes with seasonal patterns. This is a depression related to changes in the season where symptoms will begin and end at the same time yearly. There may not be a way to prevent SAD from happening but there are many methods of lessening the symptoms by getting plenty of sunlight.
Most with SAD generate symptoms during the fall and continue through the winter. It is possible for the SAD patient to have social issues with people around them, irritability, low energy, oversleeping, weight gain, heavy feelings in their arms or legs, hypersensitive to rejection, or an appetite change where there is a strong urge for carbohydrates.
It is still unknown what the cause of SAD is but there could be theories such as the decrease in sunlight upsets the body’s internal clock, leading to depression.
Reduced sunlight also causes a drop in serotonin levels which affect the patient’s mood and triggers depression. Melatonin levels can also be disrupted when the seasons’ change which affects mood and sleep patterns.
Instead of waiting for symptoms to worsen, it is best to start treatment around September when early symptoms arise like low energy or carbohydrate cravings. Otherwise, the SAD patient can experience complications such as suicidal thoughts or behaviour, school or work problems, social withdrawal, or substance abuse.
There are effective treatments such as Light Therapy where the patient sits for 30-60 minutes daily a few feet away from a special light box stronger than regular light sources. It can work from a few days to weeks. There are also anti-depressants to take such as Fluoxetine or Bupropion. It also helps to try psychotherapy to identify and change the patient’s negative thoughts as well as stress management.
Home remedy techniques can also help such as opening the blinds and sitting by the window. Patients can spend hours outside by taking long walks or sitting on the bench to feel the sun. Exercise can also be successful in relieving stress and anxiety.
Following these treatment options will make the changing of the seasons much easier for SAD patients.
Castle Craig Hospital is a landmark of addiction and mental health treatment in Scotland, serving the UK, the EU, and patients from all over the world. Our commitment to long term abstinence has created a successful program of clinical and complementary therapies for mind, body, and spirit. Serving over 10,000 patients for more than 25 years, the Castle Craig model is proven in changing lives. Call our 24 hour free confidential phone-line for information: 0808 231 7723. From outside the UK please call: +44 1721 788 006