Winter is coming: A flash guide to preparing for seasonal affective disorder
It’s time to prepare (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD as it’s more commonly known, is a depressive illness caused by shortened daylight hours and a lack of sunlight.

Around 21% of the population experience a less intense form of SAD, which is often referred to as ‘winter blues’, while 8% of the population experience severe symptoms, which can prevent normal function without the right treatment.

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The symptoms of SAD can vary as it’s a complex condition, but most commonly include depression, anxiety, lethargy and sleep problems.

I face the more severe symptoms of SAD.

For some years, it was passed off as me just being a lazy teenager but I never grew out of it. Then it was masked by general depression for a few years.

It was only when I started to reflect that I noticed the contrast in my mood and habits between the winter and summer months.

I’ve already begun to feel the impending doom of SAD creeping in – finding it harder to wake up, craving heaps of carbs and feeling completely drained – and we are only a few days into September.

Winter is coming: A flash guide to preparing for seasonal affective disorder
(Picture: Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk)

At its worst, SAD leaves me eating piles of carbs at every opportunity, waking up super late or napping more often, makes me feel completely drained, doubles up my depression and increases my anxiety more than usual – and the usual is usually pretty astronomical.

In past years, it’s impacted my employment, my relationships, my ability to be creative and ultimately enjoy life, and I’m someone who favors autumn and winter, which is not ideal.

With that in mind, I’ve already started my preparations for the winter months.

I’ve swapped the light bulb in my bedroom for a brighter bulb – this is no replacement for light therapy, but it helps.

I have started using my light therapy lamp already. The brighter the better, with 10,000 lumens being the minimum you want for the best effects.

I’ve also recently invested in a ‘body clock’ style alarm clock that simulates sunset and sunrise, which has so far proved helpful.

And I’ve stocked up on my vitamins – max strength D and B12.

calm
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Before you run off and splash loads of cash, you should check in with your doctor, raise your concerns, and see what they suggest before taking any vitamins.

If you’re in the 21% who suffer from the winter blues, things like a 20-minute walk, rain or shine, can make a huge difference.

If like me, you find yourself in the 8%, who face life-freezing symptoms, you’ll be up for trying everything under the sun, or this case, clouds to improve things.

Other self-care style recommendations include undertaking exercise regularly, keeping stress to a minimum and ultimately being super kind to yourself while you work through the winter months.

In my experience, it’s best to accept the condition and work at learning to manage the symptoms and cope better.

SADA has a library of handy little guides and checklists to help you find your feet and find your way through the darker months.

You can also contact Samaritans on 116 123 for support around the clock.

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