What are the ‘January Blues’? (AKA Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD))
Have you ever noticed just how bleak and grey things feel during the month of January? Many people think that it is simply because we are on the come-down of all the fun of Christmas, as well as the fact that January is a long month.
But there may be more to it than this. The January Blues could actually be a case of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD as it is more commonly known.
What is SAD, how do you know that may have it and what can be done to try and help you to recover?
What Is SAD?
SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression, often known as the Winter Depression. It will usually go in a seasonal pattern and is more obvious, with more severe symptoms during the Winter months.
That said, some people have found that their SAD symptoms are worse during the Summer and are easier during the Winter. However, this is not as common an occurrence.
Whilst we don’t know exactly what causes SAD, it is thought that it may be down to the lack of sunlight that is seen during late autumn and into winter. The lack of sunlight may cause your hypothalamus to stop working properly, which in turn impacts the production of the happy chemicals that our body needs. As well as resetting our internal body clock.
What are the signs and symptoms of SAD?
Much like any form of depression, the severity and type of symptoms that you may experience with SAD can vary from person to person. You may find that you barely notice them some days, whereas others they can overwhelm you and impact your day to day activities.
Some of the most common symptoms of SAD include:
- A low mood that does not seem to ease
- Not being able to take pleasure or enjoy normal activities
- Despair, guilt or worthlessness feelings
- A lack of energy or feeling sleepy during the day
- Finding that you cannot get up in the morning, or that you have the need to sleep longer than normal
- Cravings for certain foods, usually carbohydrate based
What can you do?
If you think that you are suffering from SAD then you should speak to your GP who can advise you on the right path for you to take.
Some of the things that they may recommend include:
- Getting outside more often during the sunlight hours
- Exercising regularly
- Looking at ways to manage your own stress level
They may also recommend that you try a light box, which is known to give the same stimulation as getting out in the natural light. Another approach that they may suggest that you take is to try a variety of talking therapies such as CBT or counselling.
The important thing to do when you think that you may have SAD is to speak to an expert. They can diagnose you and ensure that you get yourself on the path to feeling somewhere like yourself as soon as possible.