Summer turns into Autumn
As we move away from the summer months, we are likely beginning to notice the days getting shorter and the weather becoming colder. The arrival of autumn brings the reds and purples of falling leaves, foggy mornings and darker evenings. As we swap our summer t-shirts for woolly jumpers, hats and scarves, autumn can give us much to look forward to. Autumn brings us closer to celebrations such as Halloween, Guy Fawkes, Hanukkah, Christmas and Hogmanay. For some of us, however, the changing of the seasons can greatly affect our moods. If you feel you really struggle with the colder weather and darker nights, it’s possible you are suffering from a condition known as ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD).
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression in which depressive episodes have a seasonal pattern. These episodes usually occur during the autumn and winter months, with symptoms improving in the spring and summer. Symptoms include a low mood, lack of energy, a loss of pleasure or enthusiasm for everyday things and feeling stressed or anxious. Sufferers may also feel tired and have to sleep more often, have difficulty with concentration and have an increased appetite.
Although the causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder have not been definitively proven, the disorder is thought to be linked to a lack of exposure to sunlight. This lack of sunlight is thought to have an effect on the hypothalamus in the brain, which controls our moods, appetite and sleep. The lack of light is believed to affect the production of the hormones melatonin and serotonin, as well as the body’s circadian rhythm. Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers often respond well to talking therapies, such as counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Light therapy can also prove to be an effective short-term treatment.
If you feel you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder, The Green Rooms may be able to help. We offer counselling and CBT which will support you to take control of your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, enabling you to experience the changing of the seasons without having to struggle with your moods and emotions.
Written by Jennifer McElroy, The Green Rooms Psychology Assistant