Feeling low from time to time is completely normal. It’s when it begins to affect your day-to-day life that it can be a sign that it may be something more. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a specific type of depression that affects some individuals at certain times in the year.
Most commonly experienced in the winter as the days grow shorter and we are less likely to experience the benefits of natural sunlight, some people do experience similar symptoms during the summer.
What is SAD?
- a persistently low mood
- feelings of stress or anxiety
- a decrease or loss of enjoyment in everyday activities
- feeling tearful, sad, or a decreased sex drive
- an increase or decrease in eating habits
Feelings of lethargy, trouble getting up, difficulties with concentration, and a decreased level of activity can also be common symptoms.
While we don’t exactly know what causes SAD, it is believed to be linked to the reduction in exposure to sunlight seen during autumn and winter months. Most commonly experienced by those aged 18-30, the UK’s naturally darker, more gloomy weather is thought to be a factor.
If you are worried you may be experiencing SAD, there are a number of things you can do. Speaking with your GP should be the first step. If you’re looking for small ways you can start improving your mood, ensuring you get outside and make the most of natural daylight can have a positive boost on your mood. Exercising can also help to boost your serotonin production, giving you a natural boost.
Talking therapies and medication are two of the most commonly suggested ways of combating SAD. Light therapy (such as through special SAD lamps or lightbulbs) is often recommended as well, as it can provide a helpful boost no matter what the weather is doing. Ensuring you are getting enough vitamins including omega-3, omega 6, and vitamin D can also have a significant impact on your mood and overall sense of wellbeing.
Hypnotherapy for SAD
If SAD is seasonal, can we really overcome these feelings? Or are we stuck feeling this way until the seasons shift?
Hypnotherapist Lynn explains, “Depression is often a symptom of unhelpful thinking habits that lead to excessive worrying and rumination. This constant worrying leads to high levels of anxiety, causing mental and physical exhaustion.
“Hypnotherapy can be a great aid in reducing stress and anxiety, thus allowing the solution-focused brain to function more efficiently and find ways of dealing with problems more effectively. During hypnosis, the subconscious part of the brain can also be engaged in learning new and more helpful ways of thinking, so that depression is less likely to occur again in the future.”
Hypnotherapy can help you to reframe negative thoughts, feelings, or perspectives around the time of year. This can stop negative thought patterns from taking hold, instead using positive suggestions whilst to create more helpful ways of thinking and encourage a relaxed state of mind.
Hypnotherapist John says, “Hypnotherapy has been widely used primarily for people who want to break bad habits, manage pain, and counter phobia. But there are also scientific studies that suggest hypnotherapy may work well in alleviating anxiety and depression.
“Hypnotherapy works for depression because it targets the underlying basis of depression, and completes the ‘unfinished business’ that otherwise continues to recycle as self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviours. With hypnotherapy, the person can go down deeper to their traumatic experiences, memories and stored emotions, which means they can quickly release them from the mind and body.”
If you find yourself experiencing common side effects of SAD including low energy or trouble sleeping, hypnotherapy techniques may be able to help encourage a more positive mindset, uncover any underlying problems, and discover an approach that works for you.