It’s a rainy Monday morning, and it’s cold, winter is announcing itself. I am not a winter person. I do not like the cold, so this week is going to be rough! The weather forecast predicts not only cold but rain and overcast conditions, as well for the rest of the week!
I don’t mind rain as such, I do, however, prefer the rain in summer. Warm and wet I can do, cold and wet not so much.
If it wasn’t for the fact that I have to get up and go to work, I would stay in my pj’s until winter was over.
I have lost my new umbrella, my garden is underwater, I am in ankle brace so the only shoes that I am able to wear at the moment are a pair of very old pumps that are not exactly waterproof.
My morning started early with a dietitian appointment for one of the girls, then take her to school and go for physio. My feet were so cold and wet, that the physio actually put hot packs on for a few minutes to warm them up!
Around 30 years ago the suicide rate in winter, was higher in the far Northern Hemisphere, especially in European countries that had very short days and were mostly dark even during daylight hours.
This was due to a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), with proper recognition this has changed and as hard as it may be to believe, spring and summer actually seem to have the higher suicide rates.
What exactly is SAD. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.”
SAD can also affect you during the summer months.
This is a very real psychological disorder. It is not as common here is South Africa but it does happen. The further you are from the equator the more at risk you are to having SAD.
I used to think that for me it was just winter blues. That is until I realised I had become a recluse. It started when I was about 16, came winter and you could not get me out.
I didn’t want to be with people, I ate mostly starchy foods, I spent my life in over sized jerseys and sock or pj’s.
This continued for quite a while, even after the children were born, I would come home from work, have a hot bath and get into pajama’s. We lived on pasta and bottles sauces, I couldn’t be bothered to cook.
It was during fertility treatment that I went onto an antidepressant and I started feeling better. After the treatment was successful and my first child was born we felt it wasn’t necessary to stay on the medication. I showed no signs of postpartum depression, plus it was summer.
Then March arrived and I started to struggle, I went back onto the tablets until November. This went on for a number of years, then I discovered daylight globes.
Light therapy is one of the treatments and is something you can do at home if you suspect you have autumn/winter SAD. I put a daylight globe into a lamp and sat in front of it for an hour each day, within a few weeks I started to feel better. You can now get special light boxes specifically for the treatment of SAD. I eventually changed my bedroom lights to daylight globes and haven’t looked back.
In the last 10 years I have started to get better. I still avoid going out if I can but I get home from work and instead of immediately going to bath and get into pajama’s, I make dinner and only get into the bath before I go to bed. For me bathing is not to get clean but rather to warm up and feel better.
The problem with SAD, whether it is autumn/winter or spring/summer SAD that you suffer from it is often missed as a condition.
If you suffer from any of these symptoms during seasonal changes you may suffer from SAD. If,however, you are suffering from these symptoms all the time you may be suffering from general depression. Either way it is advisable to seek medical assistance.
Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy
- Having problems with sleeping
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Which season do you prefer and why?