Seasonal Affective Disorder, aptly known as SAD, will be at its worst this week – that is to say, for sufferers in the Northern Hemisphere, where the 21st of December is the shortest day of the year. However, we can all rejoice in the fact that the days are now going to get longer. SAD does not appear to effect people who live near the equator, where there is less variation in the amount of daylight throughout the year.
SAD is usually described as being a type of depression that comes about when the days get shorter. It is also known to increase anxiety in some individuals. Those who suffer from SAD will have many of the symptoms of depression, such as low mood, irritability, loss of interest, low sex drive, and increased levels of anxiety.
There are theories around why some people suffer from SAD when natural light levels are low, but we don’t know for certain. Maybe the lack of natural light causes a drop in some critical brain chemicals – serotonin and melatonin in particular. Maybe it alters the natural circadian rhythms, or maybe it’s just because it’s easier to cope with the hardships of life when the sun is shining and you don’t have to wrap up to stay warm.
Treatments for SAD tend to be similar to those for depression and anxiety – antidepressant medication to alter the chemical balance in the brain, or therapy to adjust how our brains are wired. Some people use light therapy – the use of an artificial light that has the same wavelengths of natural sunlight. The scientific proof of how well this works has not been proven to everyone’s satisfaction yet. However, if it works for you … then it works for you.
Whether or not your anxiety increases in the winter months, If you want to get your life back in control, and get your anxiety level back to where it should be, you may consider getting help. I help people who are only just coping with stress and anxiety to regain control of their lives. I use hypnotherapy, in my clinic here in Fleet, to help them get to where they want to.
Photo by Jorge Salvador on Unsplash