How to Manage Seasonal Depression

Discover how to manage seasonal depression with our self-help tips.

Understanding Seasonal Depression

As the seasons change, so do our moods. Shorter days and longer nights during winter can cause a significant shift in mental well-being. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is commonly referred to as seasonal depression and affects many people worldwide. It’s thought to be triggered by the reduced level of sunlight in autumn and winter, which can disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression and low mood. With the right strategies, managing and limiting the impact it has on your life is possible.

Symptoms of Seasonal Depression

Recognising the symptoms of SAD is the first step towards management. These can vary from person to person but commonly include:

  • Consistent low mood
  • Losing interest or pleasure in everyday activities
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of despair, guilt, and worthlessness
  • Low energy and sleepiness during the day
  • Craving carbohydrates and weight gain

How to Manage Seasonal Depression at home

There are many ways to reduce the effects of SAD without needing to see a GP or mental health specialist. These things can be incorporated into your daily routine and will soon become a normal part of your life. Things that can have a positive impact on your mental health include:

  • Getting enough natural light: Spending time outdoors during the day and arranging your home and workspace to receive as much natural light as possible can boost your mood and also improve your sleep, which in turns also improves your mood
  • Keeping your body active: Regular exercise can provide an outlet and alleviate symptoms of depression by boosting those feel-good endorphins.
  • Maintain a routine: Ensuring you keep a regular schedule for sleeping, eating, and activities can help stabilise your mood.
  • Socialising with others: Regularly seeing family and friends, either in person or virtually, can provide support and reduce feelings of isolation.

Treatment Options

Some individuals may require professional treatment to manage SAD effectively. If you feel like you need help with how to manage seasonal depression, there are multiple treatment options available, including:

  • Light Therapy (Phototherapy): Sitting a few feet from a light box that mimics natural sunlight, normally first thing in the morning.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): A type of talking therapy which helps identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours which are affecting your mood.
  • Medication: In some cases, antidepressants could be prescribed by a professional to help minimise symptoms, often in conjunction with other treatments.
  • Vitamin D Supplements: As low levels of vitamin D are linked to symptoms of depression, particularly if you have a diagnosed deficiency. Supplements can reduce the impact of a vitamin D deficiency.

When to Seek Professional Help

While SAD is something that can be managed at home, it’s important to know when to seek professional help. If your symptoms are significantly impacting your daily life, it may be time to seek help from a professional.

Speaking to your GP is usually the first step towards finding the treatment and support that you need.

If you are registered with Morlais Health, our team is here to support you through seasonal changes, and help you figure out how to manage seasonal depression in the way that suits you best. We offer e-consultations or telephone appointments, if you need to be seen in person, we can refer or direct you to the most appropriate professional.

If you aren’t registered with Morlais health, contact your GP practice, they can listen to your needs and provide the help that is right for you.

If It’s a Mental Health Emergency

The NHS urgent mental health helplines offer 24-7 advice and support. Local phone numbers for the NHS crisis team are 01685 726952 and 01443 444388. You can also dial 111 and press 2 to speak to a NHS mental health professional.

The Samaritans are also available 24/7 and you can contact them by calling 116 123.

MIND also offer information and support, online and over the phone. You can speak to someone by calling 0300 123 3393.

We’re Here to Help

Contact your practice today to get support, advice and guidance from an empathetic and confidential mental health professional.