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Dublin: 21 °C Friday 7 August, 2020

Do you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder? Here are some ways to tackle it

The illness affects thousands of people, many who don’t know it.

Image: Ryan Melaugh via Flickr/CC

AS THE DAYS get shorter, thousands of Irish people will suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

The illness, also known as the ‘winter blues’, is a type of depression that is directly related to changes in the seasons.  It is caused by a decrease in sunlight which can disrupt the body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of tiredness, irritability and sometimes depression.

Decreased sunlight levels can also trigger a fall in serotonin levels.

The other symptoms of SAD include lower energy levels; oversleeping, a tendency to put on weight and a propensity to consume foods that are high in carbohydrates.

Sufferers have described it as being like “crippling tiredness” that makes people “not want to get out of bed, much less do anything”.

The Irish Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapy say, however, that it can be tackled.

Shane Kelly, Professional Services Manager with the IACP says: “The good news for anyone who suffers from SAD is that you can tackle it by making some simple lifestyle changes.”

  • Exercise
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Spend part of your day outside – get some natural light
  • Socialise, meet friends – get out of the house

“If you don’t have the time to exercise during the working week, then taking a short walk during lunchtime is also effective. The temperature may have dropped but, there is still enough natural light and fresh air to have a positive effect on your mood,” Kelly says.

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He added that it was important for SAD sufferers to socialise, but that it was vitally important to talk.

“If these feelings persist, it’s important to talk to a friend or relative. Failing that, you should seek professional advice and your GP can discuss treatment options such as medication, counselling or psychotherapy.

Most importantly, don’t suffer in silence over the long winter months,” Mr Kelly added.

Read: Murtough Ware: ‘On the outside I seemed perfect, on the inside I was going through hell’

Read: Marian Keyes says Marian Finucane pushed her on mental health in interview

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