Many of us are affected by the changing seasons, and as the weather gets colder and the days become shorter, this may negatively impact our mental health.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression which comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. It is more common in the winter months as we adjust to the change in season. While the exact causes of SAD are unclear, it’s often linked to the reduced amount of sunlight in winter.

Some of the symptoms of SAD include:

  • Persistent low mood
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • Sleeping for longer than normal and finding it difficult to get up in the morning
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in eating habits

Symptoms will vary from one person to another, and for some the severity can significantly impact daily living.

Here is a short video from ‘This Morning’ where Dr Ranj discusses the effects of SAD and provides some advice for those who may be struggling with the change in season.

If SAD affects you during the winter months, here are some small changes you could try to help improve your symptoms:

  • Make the most of natural light: Exposure to sunlight can help with boosting your mood and even a short daily walk can be beneficial. If you struggle to get out during the day, try working in bright conditions, for example sitting near a window.
  • Light therapy: Some people with SAD find that light therapy can help improve their mood considerably. This involves sitting by a special lamp called a light box, usually for around 30 minutes to an hour each morning.
  • Exercise: Exercise is shown to have a positive impact on both physical and mental health, and can help with symptoms of low mood and depression. More information on ways to keep fit.
  • Connect with others: Staying connected is essential for our wellbeing, and can help prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation. This can be especially difficult if we are working from home. Find more information on ways to connect with others.​​​​​​​
  • Plan ahead: If your symptoms start to worsen, try to put things in place for these times. For example, re-arranging activities which you find stressful or making yourself a self-care box to use when things become more difficult.