Seasonal Affective Disorder
As we see the first flakes of snow and the nights draw in it’s important to remember that Christmas isn’t always a happy time.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) sometimes referred to as ‘Winter Depression’ is a form of depression that according to NHS studies effects around 1 in 15 people in the UK. It is usually seen between September and April but can be much more prevalent during the winter months of December and on into January and February.
Symptoms that may present themselves include*:
- a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
- loss of libido
- weakened immune system.
- sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
- craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
These symptoms can become severe and often impair day-to-day activities exacerbating or leading to feelings of anxiety and stress and affecting not only ourselves but those around us. You are not alone though and with a little comprehension and the right tools and support we can make a positive difference take more control of these feelings and behaviours.
What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Whilst the exact causes of SAD are still being researched it’s commonly held that reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days is one of the main contributors. This in turn affects the brain and in particular the hypothalamus an area that stores recent memories and behavioural patterns but has been linked to anxiety.
This lack of sunlight leads the hypothalamus to increase the production of melatonin. This means there’s a decrease in our normal levels of serotonin. It’s also noted that this change in light can have a negative effect on our circadian rhythms.
Melatonin (Hormone) – An increase in melatonin can lead us to become lethargic and sleepy.
Serotonin (Hormone) – Affects sleep cycles, a mood stabiliser, effects appetite and plays an important role in how we deal with anxiety and stress.
Circadian Rhythms (Internal body clock) – SAD may also disrupt our sleeping patterns or make it difficult to get up or fall asleep at our usual times.
If you think you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, you should visit your GP or a relevant health professional. They can give you further information and a thorough diagnosis. There may also be treatments such as SSRI’s that your GP can recommend.
You can also increase your levels of serotonin through ‘The Three Ps’ – Positive Activity, Positive Interaction and Positive Thoughts. You should get as much natural light as possible, you could use of a lightbox to help your sleep pattern and you can help further by reducing your stress levels through the use of talking therapies such as CBT, counselling or my personal passion Solution Focused Hypnotherapy.
How can Solution Focused Hypnotherapy Help?
I use the latest developments in neuroscience, CBT and Solution Focused Brief Therapy in combination with the focus of hypnosis to help positively intervene and concentrate on your desired outcome.
With commitment from the yourself – we collaborate to build on your strengths and resources to help give you the tools and support you need. Giving you the ability to cope better and create more of that all-important serotonin in a natural and relaxing way.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy does not use regression, ask you to give any information that you’re not happy disclosing and does not use any stage theatrics. It’s a safe and complementary way of helping you recognise that you have the resources and inner strength to deal with difficulties in a calm and relaxed way.
SAD.org.uk’s recommended Lightboxes and buyers guide – HERE
Ben Gaskell MA HPD SFH SUP DSFH AfSFH-Reg CNHC-Reg is a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist working with clients who suffer from anxiety, stress, low mood and phobias. Based in both Deansgate, Central Manchester and the Stretford area of Greater Manchester he serves the local and surrounding areas of Urmston, Didsbury, Sale, Chorlton, Hale, Altrincham and Trafford. Further details can be found on ‘getting here’ or my ‘contact’ page. For more information on how Ben at Greater Manchester Hypnotherapy can help you please call 07756 932 702 or email [email protected].
Images courtesy of Unslpash.com