Friday, 8 June 2012

A bit of SAD

I was fortunate with the extended Jubilee bank holiday to have five days off work. So, what did I do with this time? Write posts for this blog or Philofaxy, get stuff done, work on my filofax or go for a run? Nope. Apart from one day on an aikido course, I pretty much didn't do anything! I did enjoy reading, watching TV and being lazy, but I've been mulling it over and have realised the great British weather has been getting to me.

Last winter I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I think I've struggled in the winter for many years on and off, but for some reason the one just gone was especially bad, despite it being quite mild.
My symptoms seem fairly typical:
  • Extended periods of a fairly low mood and self-esteem (I'm normally a pretty happy bunny), which I worked on through the day. By bedtime I felt a bit more like my normal self, but it started all over again the next morning
  • Wanting to eat junk food and comfort eat
  • Feeling very lethargic and wanting to sleep all the time
  • Feeling very unsociable and only wanting to be around my husband
  • Not wanting to go outside if it was cold or raining
  • Feeling irritable and slow to follow conversations
  • Not wanting to do things I normally enjoy - this is what finally led me to make a doctor's appointment.
By the time I went to see my doctor, I'd already started working on improving things by: 
  • Using a light lamp we already owned - I'd eat my breakfast in front of it and then have another session after work
  • Getting outside
  • Exercising - aikido seemed to be the best way to get back to being 'me'
  • Being more aware of my diet
  • Having regular shiatsu sessions and meditating
  • Writing things down and then looking at them a bit more objectively
  • Visualising how I'd talk, act and move when I was more my normal self and then emulate that behaviour.
I discussed all this with my doctor and she agreed that I was already helping myself with the above, but I found it useful to be actually diagnosed with it. Rather than thinking of it in a negative way, it helped spurred me on to get back to normal. We went through a questionnaire very similar to this and agreed I scored higher than we'd both like. I then used the light lamp for a month, and went back for a follow-up appointment where I scored much less on the questionnaire and felt much better overall. We did discuss the use of a low-level antidepressant as an option, but I felt my improvement was such that I didn't need it.   

If you feel you might be suffering from SAD, I'd highly recommend you go and have a chat with your GP. Mine was very helpful and it was confirmation that I was on the right track to feeling better. Unfortunately, light boxes and lamps aren't available on the NHS. The one I use is made by Lumie and is an older version of this one. It's definitely helped me, and I feel a sense of relief when I sit in front of it on a gloomy and wet day.

Well, our long-range weather forecast isn't very good at all, so I'll be back to using our light lamp twice daily for the time being!


  1. Hi Anita!

    Interesting post. Your symptoms sound like me all the time!!! I use a light box in the morning when I'm putting on my makeup. I think it's helped my mood a bit, but I wouldn't like to say for definite. (It certainly helps me to see better when I'm putting my makeup on LOL!)

    1. Hi LucyLastic :)
      I'm sorry to hear that you feel this way all the time, as I struggle with it when I have it for when I do! I hope you're having a better day today.

    2. To be honest, I'm kind of used to it. It's just the way I am and I've never known anything else! Not sure whether it's SAD but I know I feel happier when the weather's sunny. I just think I'm not a very energetic person generally. Oh well!

  2. Aww I'm sorry to hear you've been diagnosed with SAD but if it's any consolation, I spent the Jubilee weekend doing absolutely nothing as well lol!

    1. Thanks, Hazel. I've just popped over to have a nose at your blog :)
      Yeah, normally doing nothing is great though!

  3. Hi Anita, I feel similar sometimes even though I'm not sure if I have SAD or not. I'm originally from Japan now living in the UK, and I love this country very much, but the lack of the sun makes me feel really down sometimes. I'll keep that it mind that there is a light lamp available if necessary!

    1. Hi Sachiko, I'm sorry to hear that the lack of sun affects you too. The light lamps aren't cheap, but it definitely helps me.
      I love your blog & am going to have a look at your Etsy shop soon :)

  4. Sorry to hear this Anita, what you describe sounds like me on a day to day basis, I don't get much sunlight as I suffer from depression, anxiety and have recently been diagnosed with BPD, I'm trying to get outside more even if it's just in the backgarden, my hubby mentioned SAD to me and wondered if I suffered from this, my response was "do you not think I suffer from enough without adding something else to the list" lol, but your post has made me think!!

    1. Hi Alison. I'm sorry too to hear about your depression, anxiety & BPD as it sounds like you have a lot on your plate. I think we all appreciate getting out into the sunshine anyway :)