Autumn is a beautiful time of year which brings some uplifting sunny days and nature turns on a colour show. But it also means that daylight hours are reducing and for some that can bring on seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is a seasonal type of depression which occurs more in Winter, and it can have a severe and impact on your daily life.
Symptoms include low mood, despair, irritability, feelings of worthlessness and poor sleep.
We don’t know the true cause of SAD, but one theory is that the reduction in sunlight might hinder the working of the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that produces the body’s essential hormones and chemical substances. This can mean that sufferers produce more melatonin (making us sleepy), and less serotonin (lowering our mood). It also disrupts our body clock (circadian rhythm), hence the struggle to wake up.
Another possibility is that SAD can run in families.
If you cannot cope with this and it is preventing you from functioning well, don’t think you are alone or that it is something trivial. Your GP should recognise it as a genuine form of depression and can make an assessment. With the development of light therapy there are now various light boxes and lamps on the market. Counselling, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), for depression can help and in severe cases your GP might suggest antidepressants.