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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

On a sunny bright day, it’s easy to walk around and adore autumn. But for me, I know winter is coming and like a fifth of the population for me this means Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. I have to work really hard to maintain my mood in winter form feeling flat, unmotivated, lethargic, wanting to sleep and eat carbs. Some of this I think is a normal healthy evolutionary change to winter. But the mood component for me, and for many others, is not.

Here are some quick tips which really work …

The evidence for treating SAD is good and growing.

White Light boxes or dawn mimicking lights are now quite cheap to buy.

For those with profoundly altered mood, Fluoxetine has the best evidence base, or try St John’s Wort or CBD drops or oil. 

Regular exercise, even when the sofa is so much more appealing, is really important. This can be ten minutes cleaning, dancing, a free You Tube video or sex. Doesn’t need to be fancy or cost money.

Getting out every day even if for 5-10 minutes to top up your light exposure. I have to force myself to do this some days, but I always feel better afterwards. 

I will take Vitamin D from now until spring.

I crave heat, so for me I switch now to hot yoga when I can. I go to the sauna if I can and if I have a massage, I would opt for a hot stone massage.

I also accept that I want to nest so I #hygge it up as much as possible. Relish the dark. Light a fire. Candles on. Make fewer appointments which means less going out in the cold and dark at night.

Life can get a bit harder at this time of year, but there are plenty of ways to lift us up and keep afloat.

Dr Rebecca Moore is consultant perinatal psychiatrist with expertise in treating anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD and psychosis in the perinatal period and has a special interest in Birth Trauma and PTS after birth. For pregnant mothers, she is experienced in prescribing in pregnancy and breastfeeding and preconception counselling. Rebecca lectures at the IOP, chair an annual study forum on Birth Trauma and teaches in a wide variety of settings.

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