Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing and we have it

It can be more than just feeling under the weather

Winter blues, cold walks in the rain and getting down about the dark nights can be normal after the long summer.

But believed to be more than just a summertime sadness, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is caused by big changes to daylight, temperature and weather.

Most of us have more energy when the weather is better, but for the sufferers of SAD a change in seasons can bring about a dramatic change in mood, energy levels and can even lead to depression.

It can cause undereating, overeating and constantly being in a bad mood.

We spoke to some students and graduates who have SAD to find out what it’s really like and why it should be taken more seriously.


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can mean a drop in mood and energy levels when the weather changes

Third year Sussex English student Sarah George suffers from SAD and now recognises the symptoms when they start to show up each year.

She told The Tab: “Personally I get tired all the time, cranky, moody, and become uninterested in things I usually find fun.

“It’s hard to find motivation or positivity – it’s like depression, but seasonal.

“However many people think depression is just sadness, when it’s actually a whole range of emotions including anxiety, guilt, feeling nothing, boredom and tiredness.

“Most days, I can get on with my life normally, but everything is much more effort. On bad days, it’s hard to get out of bed or feel interested in anything at all.”


Sarah explained SAD as like depression but seasonal

Sarah says if you’re feeling down now the weather has changed, you should consider whether you have the disorder.

She added: “A lot of people don’t think SAD is a real thing and don’t understand what is happening to them.”

It can help when the weather gets better, but it doesn’t happen the moment the sun comes out again.

Sarah said: “The process is very gradual and it depends a lot on the person how quickly they can improve.

“It doesn’t help that winter and short days in England last about five or six months of the year.

“My advice would be not to ignore the symptoms and go and see a GP straight away.”

Another SAD sufferer is Josh, who is far more skeptical about the condition – at least as far as his own health is concerned.

He said: “I got diagnosed with it about four years ago around November.

“I would always become really lethargic, miserable and anti-social, which is totally not me. I even became really reclusive.

“Then I went to the doctor and they prescribed me Vitamin D supplements, recommended a diet and suggested I get a SAD light.”

Alongside the tablets, doctors often give out SAD lamps to help replace the darkness lost by the sun.


Josh doesn’t think he was correctly diagnosed as having SAD, and blames anxiety instead

Josh said: “It turns out I was later diagnosed with anxiety and depression, put on meds and was absolutely fine

“So I kind of feel as though SAD is something they diagnose people with minor depression with who they don’t want to give drugs to.

“With me I think it was definitely the anxiety, and I don’t believe it was SAD – but I think everyone gets it differently.”

On the other hand, UEA History of Art and Literature grad Jess Howard started to get SAD straight after graduating this July.


Jess developed SAD not long after graduating

She said: “I felt tired, lethargic and had absolutely no motivation – just crying every day and all I wanted to do was sleep.

“Initially, I put it down to graduate life, being confused about what I was going to do next and feeling intimidated by friends who were storming ahead while I felt anxious and afraid.

“It wasn’t until I chatted to a friend about how depressed I was feeling that I realised what I had been suffering from was SAD.”

“SAD is essentially a period of depression, it involves the majority of the symptoms so sufferers are frightened to approach their doctor.

“It is caused by a lack of vitamin D, something that’s very common thanks to the traditional British weather.