As the days get colder and darker many people start to feel a little down and depressed. Leaving your warm, toasty bed for a cold commute, or emerging from the office into 5 p.m. blackness, having not managed to see the sun for the entire day can feel like too much to bear.
Although it’s common for people to joke that they feel like hibernating during the winter, people who actually have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) experience depressive symptoms that are severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life, just like the symptoms experienced by people with major depression, wreaking havoc with their mood, motivation and relationships. Typically peaking in January and February – the darkest and coldest months – SAD is characterised by feelings of depression, guilt, irritability, low energy and apathy. You may also experience changes in appetite such as intense carbohydrate cravings and sleep changes.
The reduced sunlight in autumn and winter triggers changes in hormone production including melatonin and serotonin which lead to these changes in mood. This means that light therapy is quite effective in alleviating SAD symptoms, as is supplementation with Vitamin D. So make sure that you’re maximising natural light; if it’s a nice day, soak up the sun. Walk around the block exposing as much skin as you can comfortably handle or grab the window seat on the bus. If you can’t get outside while it’s light, fake it: Use artificial light, such as a commercial light box and you’ll likely notice a positive improvement in your mood.
For those that find it a little more challenging to pull themselves out of the SAD funk, hypnotherapy can help. Talking therapies have been proven to help treat anxieties, stress and depression and the National Council for Hypnotherapy has around 1,800 qualified therapists across the UK who can provide effective treatment. By targeting negative and unhelpful thinking patterns and learning skills around resilience depression can start to lift and life can feel better again.
The NCH says that after sessions with a hypnotherapist you may feel more confident; more relaxed in situations that have previously challenged you. They report that many people say that they are calmer and that they have more clarity of thought – able to make decisions more easily.
Click here to access the NCH directory to find a qualified and insured therapist near you.