Now the clocks have gone back, the nights are getting longer, darker and colder. Understandably this can make many of us feel a little bit glum. For some however, the change in season signals a deeper shift to depression.
Seasonal affective disorder, commonly known as SAD, is a form of depression that affects people in the winter months.
The cause is unknown, however it is believed to be linked to reduced sunlight and how this affects the brain’s melatonin and serotonin levels.
Serotonin is known as the ‘happy’ chemical. Serotonin levels drop when the days get shorter, while melatonin levels (the chemical that helps us sleep) rise. In some people, this combination leads to depression.
There are various symptoms of SAD, including:
- persistent low mood
- loss of pleasure/interest in everyday activities
- loss of libido
- feeling less sociable