Advice

Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder

By Sai

If you generally lose your energy and strength, get more easily irritated and more hopeless as soon
as autumn and winter roll around, you are not alone. SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) or ‘winter
depression’ is a sort of seasonal depression, where during some times of the year, usually in winter,
the symptoms of depression are heightened. According to the NHS the symptoms of SAD are due to
a decrease of sunlight during autumn and winter months, which leads to the hippocampus of your
brain not working properly. As the hippocampus is responsible for the production of melatonin,
serotonin and your general body clock, you’ll experience more fatigue, loss of appetite and overall
depression. This lack of sunlight is also why the Nordic countries see more cases of SAD than
southern nations. Of course, some people are more affected than others and therefore symptoms
and treatments will vary.

Having depression which worsens a lot in winter is really quite annoying. Just when university starts
all my energy leaves me, I get agitated, hopeless and my depression worsens drastically. In the
beginning of the semester its still fine so I think little of it, but especially as assessments get nearer, I
have to convince myself that it’ll get better just so that I don’t drop out completely. Luckily it does
get better! And from experience I can tell you there are a few things which make it a bit more
bearable.

The first thing to do is make sure you get up every day at the same time. Set your alarm clock to
preferably before noon (its hard but that’s how you get that sweet daylight we need) and make
yourself get up. Find something to convince yourself with, maybe set your alarm to a really upbeat
song, or make someone record a message to make you get up. And once you are up, treat yourself
to a lovely cup of hot chocolate, coffee or tea or something you genuinely enjoy.

The second big thing is getting outside once a day. Even if it is just to go for a walk for ten minutes, it
is vital to get fresh air and especially daylight. If you can afford it, go treat yourself to a visit to costa
or hoffi coffee or whatever you like. If you don’t feel like doing that or cant afford it, Bute park looks
lovely all around the year, and you’d be able to watch squirrels and the occasional dog!
Lastly, make sure to exercise. It doesn’t have to be much, and going for a walk is already something,
but as with all depression related health issues, exercise does actually make it better. If you go out
and maybe jog for a few minutes, or when you get home do a ten minute work out and stretch,
that’s already enough to get your body going, wake you up and overall make you feel better. Doing
some physical activity during the day also helps you sleep later on, and makes you feel more
accomplished as well.

The bottom line is getting into a routine, even if that can be extremely difficult sometimes. And even
if you don’t manage to do everything, or wake up every day, you are trying and ,maybe just trying is
what will make it better in the end.

There is hope; take that from a successful 3rd year with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

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