Having the Winter Blues

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Often referred to as ‘winter depression’ or ‘winter blues’, some people consider Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to just be a myth. However, it does exist, and it is recognised by the NHS.  

In Aberdeen, at a latitude of 57 degrees north, this time of year the sun can set as early as 3.25pm. 

A lack of sunlight is one of the main reasons for SAD. It causes disruption in the body’s production of serotonin, the hormone commonly associated with joy or happiness. It will also affect your body’s internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, which dictates your sleeping habits. 

Depression can often be traced back to a lack of serotonin.   

Common symptoms of SAD are: 

  • a lack of energy, pleasure and interest in everyday activities,  

  • a persistent low mood,  

  • feelings of despair and worthlessness, 

  • the constant craving for sugar and carbohydrates resulting in weight gain, 

  • a longer than usual sleep and difficulties to get up. 

 This time of year is a deadline period for most students, SAD can have an enormous influence on those affected.  

Getting up for early classes, and spending the day on campus can mean that once you get free time, it is already pitch-black outside. The day would be spent in either artificial light or darkness. This can lead to a feeling of having wasted a day. Adding to that, SAD can cause concentration problems that affect studies at this crucial time of the semester.   

Usual treatments to improve your well-being are:  

  • regular exercise, 

  • getting outside and as much exposure to sunlight as possible, 

  • a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables and plenty vitamins.

If you think your struggle with SAD is too hard, it is advisable to seek professional help from a therapist or doctor. 

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