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Seasonal Affective Disorder and what you can do to help

What is SAD?

Seasonal affective Disorder (SAD) has also been known as ‘Winter Depression’. It is distinguished due to seasonal patterns that it seems to occur in, with feelings of depression during the winter months and remission of these feelings during spring and summer. 

Though there is a lack of understanding as to the direct cause of SAD, it is understood that the reduced exposure to sunlight may have an effect on properties of the brain, affecting the levels of Melatonin, Serotonin and our Circadian Rhythm.[1]

What you may experience with SAD?

As any mental illness, signs and symptoms may differ from person to person and season to season. However, symptoms may include the following:

  • Low mood and energy
  • Lack of ability to concentrate
  • Irritability 
  • Change in Appetite 
  • Change in sleep patterns 
  • Loss of pleasure in day-to-day activities 
  • Feelings of loss, guilt, or worthlessness

Symptoms may also exacerbate other mental illnesses you may be suffering from if you are already struggling. 

What can help?

If you feel you do suffer from SAD, putting in place some lifestyle changes may be useful. 

Taking part in regular exercise and eating a balanced diet can help to manage sleep, mood and self-esteem which can all help in managing your condition. It can also be helpful to spend as much time as possible in sunlight or working in bright conditions.[2]

Other Treatments may include:

  • Light Therapy
  • Medication 
  • Talking Therapies
  • Complimentary Therapies such as Mindfulness 

Mindfulness Practice and SAD

Mindfulness uses clinically proven techniques to guide you into making significant positive changes in a relatively short space of time.

At the heart of Mindfulness is a conscious focusing of attention on the present moment without judging the experience. This allows us to become more aware of our thoughts, our emotions, and our bodily sensations. Through recognising our habits and automatic ways of reacting, we can learn to navigate challenges more effectively and make choices which are more aligned to what we truly need. We can learn to accept how things are, giving us more control in our choices on how we want to live our lives.

Those who regularly practise Mindfulness may find transformative benefits for the body and mind, such as:

  • Increased sense of relaxation and calm
  • Energy boost, improved immune function and reduced blood pressure
  • A richer connection with others
  • Greater release from the ‘worry mind’
  • Distance from your thoughts to quieten your mind
  • A renewed zest for life
  • More self-confidence and kindness towards the self
  • Less risk of experiencing stress, depression and anxiety
  • Less danger of experiencing chronic pain and addiction
  • Increased compassion for yourself, for our tribe and for our planet.

Putting mindfulness into practice can help to reduce the affects of SAD through becoming more aware of your emotions and finding ways to have more control over the way you feel. 

For more information or for a chat about how mindfulness can help you please contact Julie Ferris at or visit her website

[1] Overview – Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – NHS (

[2] Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Symptoms, Treatments | Bupa UK

Please see also our blog on the Benefits of Sunlight

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