Seasonal Affective Disorder Strategy
A population mental health surveillance report published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine in 2013 has highlighted the effects of season on a wide range of mental health problems. The study looked at the number of web searches for information on mental health problems, over a four year period. The following were all included: ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder); anxiety; bipolar; depression; anorexia or bulimia (eating disorders); OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder); schizophrenia; and suicide. There was a peak in searching for information in winter and a deep trough in summer. This is the first time that any study has shown that the seasons affect a broad range of mental health problems and not just the type of depression known as 'Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
The following strategy is therefore also relevant to other forms of depression.
If you are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) you are not alone, it is estimated as many as one in ten people in Northern Europe suffer from some form of SAD (Mind UK). And if you are reading this, you clearly want to do something to make the winters an easier and less difficult time, free from symptoms of low energy, depression and changes to your sleep and eating patterns.
The collection of symptoms that include low mood and energy in winter can be extremely debilitating. Some people suffer mild symptoms, but the syndrome can be acute and interfere with everyday activities and work.
It’s not yet understood what causes SAD or why some people suffer and not others. It does appear that our need for light differs – some people need a lot more light than others to function normally. It is likely that there is more than one cause of SAD and that stress and traumatic life events can also trigger an episode. Looking after yourself as the summer ends and developing some healthy habits with food and exercise could be helpful in protecting you from seasonal depression.
The Patient QI chart gives you information on many different treatments that have been shown to help reduce anxiety, low energy and depression associated with SAD. We have also included other information where treatment and therapy for relieving the symptoms of SAD look promising but are still being investigated.
Click on the boxes and this will take you to the detailed information for each treatment group, enabling you to decide which treatments might be good for you and it will help you to start planning your own personal strategy for SAD.
You can also download or print out the information and use it as the starting point for discussions with your physician, MD, Naturopath, or coordinating therapist.